A human anatomical figure. Drawing, Nepalese, ca. 1800 (?).

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About this work


This is entirely drawn from the Ayurvedic understanding of the human anatomy, unlike other Indian images of the human body. The channels and organs drawn on the torso are specified as in Ayurvedic literature, with organs named as receptacles for one or other of the organic fluids. The text captions are extracts from the Bhāvaprakāśaḥ, written between 1550 and 1590 by Bhāvamiśra. However, the organs in Ayurveda, are seen in a much wider context than in the West. They are the seats of the humours (wind, bile and phlegm) and do not generally engage in the kind of processing which modern western biomedicine expects of an 'organ'



Physical description

1 painting : gouache, with pen and ink ; sheet 62.5 x 40.5 cm

References note

W. Schupbach, The Iconographic collections of the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, London 1989, p. 19
Heather Elgood, 'The human being as a complex whole', Art India: the art news magazine of India, 2004, vol. 9: 30
Dominik Wujastyk, 'A body of knowledge: the Wellcome Ayurvedic anatomical man and his Sanskrit context', Asian medicine, 2008, 4: 201-248
Jayanta Bhattacharya, 'The knowledge of anatomy and health in Āyurveda and modern medicine: colonial confrontation and its outcome', Eä - Revista de humanidades médicas & estudios sociales de la ciencia y la tecnología, 2009, 1:1-51 (reproduced p. 25)

Exhibitions note

Exhibited in "Ayurvedic Man: Encounters with Indian medicine" at Wellcome Collection, 16 November 2017 – 8 April 2018


Wellcome Collection 574912i



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