How did the costume of the plague doctor and why he looks so weird

The famous suit of the plague doctor, in the form in which we know it, appeared only in the XVII century. The plague was active in Europe from the middle of XIV century, but one not particularly versed in the nuances of its distribution, therefore, a serious protective measures are not taken, relying more on prayers, incantations or amulets.

The journal The Public Domain Review is told the history of suit of the plague doctor and explained his extravagant appearance.

How did the costume of the plague doctor and why he looks so weird

The costume was constructed with the expectation of something in order to protect the wearer from miasma "bad air" that everyone thought was the main carrier of the deadly disease. In this "overalls" were not random or decorative elements. Everything in the outfit of a doctor had its purpose, starting from the long "nose" mask and ending with a thin cane.

How did the costume of the plague doctor and why he looks so weird

As the main material for the suit used leather or waxed canvas. In the eye sockets of the mask inserted glasses, and a long "beak" was filled with a mixture of spices, which includes camphor, mint, clove and myrrh, fragrant flowers or put a rag soaked with vinegar.

How did the costume of the plague doctor and why he looks so weird

In extreme cases, when the stench of dead and rotting alive patients interrupted the flavors of the filler, set it on fire. It was believed that burning the contents of the mask not only protects the doctor, but also disinfects the district. Additionally, to be completely confident in their own safety, many doctors during the execution of their dangerous work chewed garlic and plugged his nostrils and ears folded pieces of cloth, saturated with incense.

How did the costume of the plague doctor and why he looks so weird

Thin long canes, which were in the hands of the plague doctors, had many functions. Wand used as a pointer in order to direct the assistants to measure the pulse withdrawal the patient's clothes and as an instrument for the repulsion of suspicious persons.

How did the costume of the plague doctor and why he looks so weird

It is considered that the classic costume of the plague doctors developed by a French doctor Charles de Lorm (1584-1678). But many have credited this doctor questioned, as in 1630-ies of the protective clothing of this type were used independently throughout Europe.

How did the costume of the plague doctor and why he looks so weird

But the most widespread use of the costumes received in 1656, during the plague that swept Italy. Then death took over half a million lives in Naples and Rome, and the protective garb has become a mandatory attribute of the plague doctor. Wear this garment requires agreement that each physician entered into with the municipal councils.

How did the costume of the plague doctor and why he looks so weird

Gradually, the view of the plague doctors stopped cause people to panic and this image was included in the European culture. He was loved by the Venetians that the "big-nosed" mask became one of the trademarks of the famous carnival. Appeared plague doctor and on the stage — medieval "Commedia Dell'arte", and her character Medico della Pesta enjoyed special success with the audience.

How did the costume of the plague doctor and why he looks so weird

From the point of view of modern medicine, the plague doctors were more harm than good. They burned and cut the bubonic plague was dying herbal concoctions and castor oil, and sometimes accelerated the departure to the other world, arranging mindless bloodletting.

How did the costume of the plague doctor and why he looks so weird

Were among physicians and professionals who had not exacerbated the suffering of patients and organized their strict isolation and thorough ventilation.Nostradamus also had considerable experience of caring for the sick with plague, in his "Treatise on the preparation of jams," wrote that the best way to deal with pestilence is operational separation of the sick from the healthy and sending them to different parts of the settlement.

How did the costume of the plague doctor and why he looks so weird

Despite the dubiousness of the work of the plague doctors, they were and the obvious benefit. They gave desperate people hope for salvation and in many cases was the only one who admonished the dying. Anyway, they played a role in the history of medicine and left to posterity many important knowledge, which often paid with their lives.

Keywords: Venice | Quarantine | Carnival | Plague | Middle ages | Epidemic

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