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Personifications Of The Four Humours, In The Guildbook Of The Barber Surgeons Of York

Personifications Of The Four Humours, In The Guildbook Of The Barber Surgeons Of York

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1486

Shelfmark: Egerton MS 2572

Item number: f.51r

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 the 'Four Humours' were thought to be bodily fluids which affected a person's health: blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile. Around the head of Christ are four male figures, identified by captions as personifications of the Four Humours, corresponding to the fluids: Melancholy, Sanguine, Phlegmatic, and Choleric.

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