This is a collection of essays about the indigenous medical knowledge ofthe early modern people of Malabar and their ancient culture, mainly based on Hortus Malabaricus, the first ever printed book on the flora of lndia written in Latin and published during 1618-1693 from Amsterdam. It was compiled and edited by the then Dutch Governor of Cochin, Commodore Hendrik Adriaan Van Rheede, based on the information supplied by a native physician Collatt Itty Achuden Vaidyar on the important indigenous medicinal plants, the diseases to treat which they are used and the methods of preparation of the drugs and treatment.
The original book in 12 Volumes was the result of the first ever collaborative venture between European scholars in the Netherlands and Indian experts of Malabar in Asia, the like of which did not happen again for centuries. This book is now used to protect the indigenous medical knowledge on about 700 indian medicinal plants from patenting by others, protecting their traditional knowledge as the intellectual property of the local people themselves. Apart from its traditional medical, botanical and academic importance, the book may be found to be intimately associated with the socio-cultural history and the ancient heritage of india, as revealed in the essays presented here.
KS Manilal is emeritus Professor of Botany, University of Calicut, Kerala, India, Founder President of the Indian Association for Angiosperm Taxonomy (IAAT), and former President of the Indian Botanical Society. He is Chief Editor of the International journal Rheedea, named after van Rheede, and recipient of the E.K. Janaki Ammal Award forTaxonomy (2003) from the Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India. Professor Manilal has written over 200 research papers and 16 books. of which 90 papers and 5 books are on the Hortus Malabaricus.