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‘Unmasking the Craft’: Abd Al-Laṭīf Al-Baghdādī’s Views on Alchemy and Alchemists

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Chapter Summary

There is not much known about the two treatises on alchemy which ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baghdādī wrote during the second part of his lifetime, and as a logical consequence there is of course hardly any information available about his views on alchemy and its practitioners. This chapter explores the scene and the scenery a bit: ʿAbd al-Laṭīf sketches a desolate, chaotic picture of his social and geographical environment - briefly that means the triangle Aleppo-Baghdad-Damascus. ʿAbd al-Laṭīf pictures an unholy no man's land which on the outside might resemble a landscape as painted by Pieter Brueghel the Elder. In Mosul a Moroccan alchemist, a damned devil and a godforsaken rebel, made the streets unsafe. He used to sweet-talk and butter up the municipal elite and the town dignitaries, so that they left their wives, sons and daughters in his care.

Keywords: ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baghdādī; alchemy; Aleppo-Baghdad-Damascus; geographical environment; Moroccan alchemist



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