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Wound man, Pseudo-Galen, Anathomia; WMS 290


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Credit: Wound man, Pseudo-Galen, Anathomia; WMS 290. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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The 'Wound man' from an English anatomical treatise. The 'wound man' is a figure found in a number of manuscripts and printed books produced in the 15th and 16th centuries. Its exact purpose remains somewhat mysterious, but it presumably served as a reminder of the injuries to which the human body is prone. These typically range from blows to the head, to stab wounds and bites by snakes and insects. This particular version of the 'wound man' is found in an English manuscript, although the figure is captioned in Latin. The words do not provide any directions for treatment but merely describe the injury: for example, 'penetration by a sword' or 'an arrow whose point has remained in the thigh'. The artist has evidently detailed the weaponry with loving care and this wound man is remarkable for its concentration of wounds inflicted by violent assault.

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