Exhibition highlights from Ayurvedic Man

Whether you’re planning your visit or seeking a taste of our exhibition from afar, take a look at this selection of objects and consider the influence of global traditions on medical knowledge.

  • Story

Drawing the Bombay Plague, Ranjit Kandalgaonkar

Ranjit Kandalgaonkar views his Drawing the Bombay Plague drawing and digital work

The imagery behind this new art commission by Ranjit Kandalgaonkar (pictured) comes mainly from two collections: photographs and documents from Wellcome's collection, and satirical cartoons from Pickings from the Hindi Punch, a local monthly magazine held at the Asiatic Library in Mumbai.

Replicas of Indian surgical instruments

A photograph of steel replicas of Indian surgical instruments

These steel surgical tools are a modern reimagining of ancient instruments. It is thought that they were produced in India during the British administration, at a time when there was a revival of interest in Indian surgery among European medics.

Ayurvedic Man, pen and watercolour, 18th century

Visitors to the Ayurvedic Man exhibition view the Ayurvedic Man painting

This unique 18-century Nepali illustrated anatomical painting provides a visual interpretation of the organs and vessels of the male body according to classical Ayurveda. Its trail of provenance from Nepal via India to the Wellcome Library through an art dealer points to the long-standing European fascination with what is now often labelled as 'alternative medicine'.

Votive offering

A photograph of the votive offering in anthropomorphic form to Sitala

These four wooden votives from 1898 are an offering in anthropomorphic form to Sitala, the Hindu Goddess of the Smallpox.

A pair of wrestlers

A photograph of the watercolour 'A pair of wrestlers' in an album of Company drawings in the 19th century

Wrestling in modern India is a synthesis of two older traditions: the Persian form of the art brought into South Asia by the Mughais, and an indigenous Hindu form that dates back to at least the 11th century.

Wrestling takes place in akharas (gymnasia). Akharas function like health spas, creating an environment of peal and tranquility where many go to relax or treat minor ailments.

Watercolour paintings featuring women

A visitor looks at two watercolours from the 19th century: one of the viscera with a fetus in utero and one of a woman holding a pitcher

In most early medical texts, illustrations of anatomical features or medical conditions are usually depicted using male figures, unless the text specifically discusses a condition that only affects women. The painting on the left is of the viscera with a fetus in utero. On the right is a woman holding a pitcher.

Heal Good, a collection of healing recipes

Photograph of 'Heal Good' iPad stand in 'Ayurvedic Man' exhibition. 'Heal Good' was a community project which encouraged participants to contribute recipes that made them feel good to a virtual recipe book.

We've chosen eight ingredients used in Ayurvedic medicine and other medical traditions for their healing properties. The iPads on display contain a selection of recipes donated from local community groups and our visitors, which have been gathered into a digital recipe book. You can submit your own healing remedies on the iPads provided or share on Instagram using #AyurvedicMan.

<em>Visit Ayurvedic Man: Encounters with Indian medicine at Wellcome Collection until 8 April 2018.