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Drawing Of Zodiac Man, In The Guildbook Of The Barber Surgeons Of York

Drawing Of Zodiac Man, In The Guildbook Of The Barber Surgeons Of York

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1486

Shelfmark: Egerton MS 2572

Item number: f.50v

Length: 27.2

Width: 18.7

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

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In the Middle Ages naval and military barbers were not only responsible for cutting hair (to remove lice), but also for surgery such as tooth-extraction, and amputations. In England it was not until 1745 that a surgeons' guild was created, separate from the barbers' guild. This manuscript was written for the guild of Barber Surgeons of York. In the Middle Ages different parts of the human body were thought to be affected by different signs of the zodiac. This drawing relates the signs to the body-parts, from Aries (the ram) on the head, to Pisces (the fish) at the feet. In the left-hand margin are the medieval forms of arabic numerals (which are similar, but not identical, to the modern forms), which relate to the volvelle on the opposite page.

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