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Behold the Medieval Wound Man: The Poor Soul Who Illustrated the Accidents a Individual Would possibly Obtain By means of Warfare, Accident or Illness


Do you swoon on the sight of blood?

Undergo paper cuts as main trauma?

Cowl your eyes when the knife comes out within the horror film?

In that case, and likewise if not, fall to your knees and provides thanks that you just’re not the Wound Man, above.

A staple of medieval medical historical past, he’s a grisly compendium of the accidents and exterior afflictions which may befall a mortal of the period- insect and animal bites, spilled entrails, abscesses, boils, infections, plague-swollen glands, piercings and cuts, each unintended and intentionally inflicted.

Any one among these troubles ought to be sufficient to fell him, but he stays upright, displaying each final one among them concurrently, his expression stoic.

He’s laborious to take a look at, however as artwork historian Jack Hartnell , creator of Medieval Our bodies: Life, Demise and Artwork within the Center Ages writes in British Artwork Research:

The Wound Man was not a determine designed to encourage worry or to menace. Quite the opposite, he represented one thing extra hopeful: an imaginative and arresting herald of the highly effective information that could possibly be channelled and disbursed via the apply of medieval drugs.

A useful academic useful resource for surgeons for some three centuries, he started cropping up in southern Germany within the early 1400s. In an essay for the Public Area Overview, Hartnell notes how these early specimens served “as a human desk of contents”, directing events to the particular passages within the numerous medical texts the place data on present remedies could possibly be discovered.

The protocol for accidents to the intestines or abdomen referred to as for stitching the wound up with a nice thread and sprinkling it with an antihemorrhagic powder produced from wine, hematite, nutmeg, white frankincense, gum arabic, shiny purple sap from the Dracaena cinnabari tree and a restorative amount of mummy.

The Wound Man advanced together with medical information, weapons of warfare and artwork world developments.

The woodcut Wound Man in Hans von Gersdorff’s 1517 landmark Fieldbook of Surgical procedure introduces cannonballs to the ghastly combine.

And the engraver Robert White’s Wound Man in British surgeon John Browne’s 1678 Compleat Discourse of Wounds loses the loincloth and grows his hair, morphing right into a neoclassical magnificence within the Saint Sebastian mildew.

Surgical information finally outpaced the Wound Man’s usefulness, however common tradition is much from prepared for him to put down and die, as evidenced by latest cameos in episodes of Hannibal and the British comedy quiz present, QI.


Delve into the historical past of the Wound Man in Jack Hartnell’s British Artwork Research article “Wording the Wound Man.”

by way of Public Area Overview

Associated Content material

1,000-12 months-Outdated Illustrated Information to the Medicinal Use of Vegetation Now Digitized & Put On-line

Uncover the Persian eleventh Century Canon of Drugs, “The Most Well-known Medical Textbook Ever Written”

How Illuminated Medieval Manuscripts Have been Made: A Step-by-Step Have a look at this Stunning, Centuries-Outdated Craft

Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and creator, most lately, of Artistic, Not Well-known: The Small Potato Manifesto. Observe her @AyunHalliday.



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