Monday, December 13, 2010

Five early modern Persian Anatomical Illustrations

I found these beauties on the website of the United States National Library of Medicine. The original location is here. They are 17th or 18th century medical drawings from modern-day Iran or Pakistan.

Underneath each photo I have pasted the original description of the image as it appears on the NLM website. 

"...two drawings in ink and light-gray wash of skeletons, one leaning on a pedestal and the other leaning on a scythe. These two figures are clearly derivative from Vesalian illustrations."

"The female figure is of a pregnant woman. The woman holds back a flap of abdominal skin to expose the gravid uterus, while in her other hand she appears to hold a plant rather than a part of the body, though that could be interpreted as referring to the female genitalia. Surrounding the figure are portrayals of individual organs: at the top, two hearts; lower right, the lungs; something unidentified in lower left (labeled the opening of the vagina)."
"The male figure has his abdomen and chest opened to reveal the internal organs. His right hand holds a second set of genitalia, and there is a sketch of the liver and gallbladder in the upper left corner. The artistic conventions employed in the production of these two illustrations clearly indicates Western India as a place of production. The 16th to 18th-century European convention of picturing partially-dissected bodies as if they were alive, often with the obliging cadaver holding up parts of their own body for further inspection, can be seen here transferred to the Indian subcontinent. The anatomy of the exposed organs reflects indigenous Indian concepts as well as some medieval Galenic anatomy."
"The righthand figure shows the venous system, with the internal organs colored with opaque watercolors and some of the veins labeled. It is clearly derivative from the venous figures usually associated with the Tashrih-i Mansuri of Ibn Ilyas, examples of which can be seen in NLM (MS P 18) fol. 25b and (MS P 19) fol. 16b.
The lefthand figure has the bloodletting points labeled in a mixture of Persian and Arabic. This figure is clearly derivative from similar illustrations in late-medieval European manuscripts."

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