Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Black Plague Doctor

Well, my Halloween costume has just been decided. Miley Cyrus MTV VMA performance costume out. Plague doctor, in.

The plague economically crippled Europe, so towns would employ almost anyone who could tend to victims. Doctors were allowed to perform autopsies to reach a cure, something that was forbidden in Medieval Europe at the time. Besides also tending to victims, they would record the number of deaths  from the plague.

Doctors tending to plague victims took extra precautions to not get too close to the infected. Their uniform, developed in the early 17th century, was somewhat effective, yet insanely terrifying. Historians have attributed the invention of the uniform to French medical doctor, Charles de Lorme. Not only did it frighten everyone visibly, but the site of a plague doctor meant imminent death. 

They wore a heavy waxed overcoat with gloves, boots and a brim hat. The doctor carried a wooden cane that was used to examine the patient without touching them, keeping people away, removing clothing from the plague victims and to take a patient's pulse. Their beak-like mask with glass eyes was believed to counter the "evil" smells of the plague and prevent them from becoming infected. At the time, people believed the disease could have been airborne. The beak existed to hold aromatic items such as lavender, ambergris, balm-mint leaves, camphor, cloves, laudanum, myrrh, rose petals and storax.

And some WTF plague doctor artwork:

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