Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mikrokosmographia, 1615

My doctors and dentists always sent me postcards when I was due for another appointment, but they always had pictures of frogs or kitties dressed as nurses, or a dancing molar, or some other such false advertising. I think early modern doctors would have just put it out there without all the sugarcoating.

The Mikrokosmographia is an anatomical textbook written by Helkia Crooke. I've used it in past's a great resource for insight into the way people understood the body in early modern Europe. Here's an even better picture of the image from the Schoenberg Center, which is maybe my new favorite website (although nothing will ever replace EEBO in my heart).

Here's what's on the table, according to the book: "Razors of all sortes, great, small, meane, sharpe, blunt, straight, crooked, and edged on both sides; Sheares or Sizers; round and large long Probes of Brasse, Siluer, Lead; a Knife of Box or of Iuory, Pincers of all sorts; hooks, Needels bent rather then straite, Reeds, Quils, Glasse-trunkes or hollow Bugles to blowe vp the parts, Threds and strings, Sawes, Bodkins, Augers, Mallets, Wimbles or Trepans, Basons and Sponges; the Figures of all which wee haue heereunder delineated, together with a Table whereon to lay the dead, or binde the liuing Anatomy, with the rings, chains, cords, & perforations fit for that purpose."

Well, I guess that means I'm off to Home Depot! Apparently with a few household and garden items, I too can set up a medical practice!

PS -- If you're into this stuff, might I suggest Jonathan Sawday's The Body Emblazoned, and although it's a bit later, The Knife Man, about England's first surgeon, John Hunter (1728 – 1793).


Meghan said...

As you know, I am, as you so eloquently put it, "into this stuff," so thanks for the book suggestions. :) Also, although my gyno also sends postcards with pictures of (vaguely vaginal) flowers and things on the front too, I think I would much prefer to get the one you've made here. At least my reaction to the image and the message it's conveying would be in tandem, whereas now I'm just developing an aversion to flora.

mickelodeon said...

I dunno...those things look rather disturbing and make me feel a slight bit uneasy, sort of like my reaction to watching Jeremy Irons in "Dead Ringers."

BTW, I love your blog! What a great idea and very funny, too!! =)

Krista said...

*The Body Emblazoned* is great. I have worked with this text extensively in the past.

Although I am a Victorian scholar, I am very interested in the way children's bodies and skeletons were used, viewed, and dissected in 17th-century manuscripts. This, I guess, does fit with the whole Victorian love for it, too.