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


Do you swoon on the sight of blood?

Endure 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 that may befall a mortal of the period- insect and animal bites, spilled entrails, abscesses, boils, infections, plague-swollen glands, piercings and cuts, each unintentional and intentionally inflicted.

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

He’s arduous 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 concern or to menace. Quite the opposite, he represented one thing extra hopeful: an imaginative and arresting herald of the highly effective data that could possibly be channelled and distributed via the follow of medieval drugs.

A helpful 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 Assessment, 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 info on present therapies could possibly be discovered.

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

The Wound Man developed together with medical data, weapons of warfare and artwork world tendencies.

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 mould.

Surgical data ultimately outpaced the Wound Man’s usefulness, however standard 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 Assessment

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 Medication, “The Most Well-known Medical Textbook Ever Written”

How Illuminated Medieval Manuscripts Had 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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