The Canon Medicinae: A Medieval Medical Scrapbook Gone Wild – Design You Trust — Design Daily Since 2007

The Canon Medicinae: A Medieval Medical Scrapbook Gone Wild

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Forget dry textbooks! The 13th-century Parisian edition of the *Canon Medicinae* is like a medical school dropout’s wild fever dream, splashed across tempera and gold leaf on parchment.

Tucked away under shelf mark MS 0457 at the Besançon Municipal Library, this Latin translation of Avicenna’s work is proof that the Middle East had a major influence on how the West once rolled bandages (or, more likely, leeches).

h/t: flashbak

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Way back in the 9th century, Persian physician Avicenna penned the original *Canon* in Arabic. Think of it as the “greatest hits” of medical knowledge at the time. He threw in the wisdom of Greek superstars like Galen and Hippocrates, along with the insights of Razi, a fellow doc who probably invented the high five after a particularly successful bloodletting. The *Canon* became the ultimate medical school textbook, ruling the roost for centuries until the 16th century.

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But the real stars of this show are the illustrations. Sure, they might make you queasy – think emergency C-sections on deceased moms (gotta get that baby baptized!), technicolor hernias, and seasickness so bad it would make even the most seasoned sailor want to walk the plank. But hey, at least they’re honest! Surgical operations play out like a medieval game of “Operation,” consultation tables look like something out of a Monty Python sketch, and the borders are crawling with fantastical creatures that would make a unicorn blush.

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Join us as we meet patients with goiters the size of prize-winning turnips, folks with eye, nose, and ear woes that would make you wince, and a gentleman whose family jewels seem to have inflated themselves on celebratory helium. We even have a special guest appearance from a fellow who took the whole “headache” thing a bit too literally – complete with a large sword firmly lodged in his skull. Now that’s what I call a bad hair day!

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