Friday, November 27, 2015

Tools of the Trade

Ethis Crea brings us this very nice set of prop medical tools.  It's part of a costume, pictured below, for the "Birdy,Birdy" project.  That crow mask is terrifying.


CoastConFan said...

I’ve always thought the character of the Plague Doctor an interesting one from a historical standpoint. For that matter the figure has been immortalized in Venetian carnival and in Commedia dell’Arte theater. I like some of the new spin costumers are giving this old character.

The costume is really a kind of biohazard suit with gas mask, but the basis of the theory of miasma was all wrong of course. Bad air didn’t cause the Black Death any more than it caused malaria (literally bad air). Historically up to recently what passed as doctors of medicine killed as many patients as any plague. Bad science, superstition, and belief in their own infallibility snuffed many a life over hundreds of years.

Raven said...

@ CoastConFan : "Bad air didn’t cause the Black Death any more than it caused malaria (literally bad air)."

True in its "bubonic plague" (fleabite-spread) form, but the Black Death was also spread as the rarer but even more virulent "pneumonic plague" — via inhalation of fine infective droplets, [it] can be transmitted from human to human without involvement of fleas or animals — and this would be the "bad air" the mask was meant to guard against.

To this extent, the "mental floss" link names the wrong type of plague, bubonic rather than pneumonic.

CoastConFan said...

We know a good deal about plague doctors and treatments in Christian Europe, but also of interest is the treatment of The Black Plague/Black Death in the Medieval Islamic world (Chaps 8 & 9), although this yields no interesting costumes for conventions.

Some of the epidemiology in the below paper is more than folks may have an interest, but it’s worth reading for those of you in the SCA and people with a historical bent. Bubonic, pneumonic, and septicemic forms were all recognized as being of the same source and it’s now believed that pneumonic might have been the first form to manifest. While “bad air” was seen as chief culprit, infected food & diet was also named as well as infected persons, who might carry in deeply infected “to their marrow”.

Collapse of civilization is a mainstay of SF stories with war and plague being the most common trigger. This all is a long run from The King in Yellow, The Stand, Masque of the Red Death, and other literary stories that have plague as a theme, but you might get a few ideas for a medieval medical kit or items for a costume.