An Aztec Remedy for Mental Stupor

For Mental Stupor:

He whose mind is in this condition should drink the juice of the tlahtlocotic root crushed in warm water so that he will vomit.  A few days later both the bark and roots of the flowers yolloxochitl and cacauaxochitl are to be crushed in water; he is to drink the juice before lunch…His forehead, moreover, is to be anointed with the brain of a stag and the feathers of a dove, crushed and put in water, and human hair. On his neck he shall carry the stone found in the stomach of the swallow.

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Plate 98 (left) and Plate 98, detail (right)

This remedy appears in a very special manuscript known as the Badianus Manuscript (Codex Barberini, Latin 241), now housed at the Vatican library. This manuscript was created in 1552 by two individuals of Aztec descent. One, Martinus de la Cruz,  was a physician; the other, Badianus, rendered the former’s pharmacological knowledge into Latin. The manuscript, decorated with pigments made of native materials,  is not only astoundingly beautiful, but an important witness to Aztec medicine at the time of the conquest. Special Collections owns a facsimile, edited by  Emily Emmart.

Plate68

Plate 68

The Badianus Manuscript, Codex Barberini, Latin 241, Vatican Library: An Aztec Herbal of 1552

John Hopkins Press, 1940

Rare Folio RS169 .C7 1552a

Posted in Special Collections

Nessie

The Loch Ness Monster (or Nessie for short) is one of the most elusive cryptids in modern folklore.  In fact, the Loch Ness monster is so elusive, we have only one confirmed sighting on our shelves here in Special Collections.  It comes in the form of The Loch Ness Monster Watchers, a 1974 essay by Victor Perera about an expedition he and a collegue took to Loch Ness in Scotland to try to spot Nessie for themselves.Loch Ness Monster Watchers

Many theories about the Loch Ness Monster exist in modern legends.  One of the most common theories surrounding the Loch Ness Monster is that Nessie is some form of plesiosaur, whose line has somehow survived into modern times within the loch.   This image from Robert McCann’s short comic “Ocean Blues”, featured in Disappointing Circus, shows such a creature.  You can certainly see the family resemblance.

Disappointing Circus

Whether or not you believe in Nessie or think it’s all just a hoax, the legend continues to be a huge draw for cryptozoologists, adventurers, and the simply curious, all hoping to catch a glimpse of the mysterious creature.  If you can’t afford the trip to Scotland to seek out Nessie for yourself, come see us at Special Collections, where you can read all about one such a trip and decide for yourself – is the Loch Ness Monster real or just wishful thinking?

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Vesalius at 500 exhibit opens today at Ellis Library

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December 31, 2014, will mark the five hundredth birthday of Andreas Vesalius, one of the most important anatomists in the history of medicine. The MU Libraries will commemorate this historic occasion with an exhibition entitled Vesalius at 500: Student, Scholar, and Surgeon, on view November 5-30 in the Ellis Library Colonnade.

Andreas Vesalius is frequently called the father of modern human anatomy. Born in 1514 in modern-day Belgium, he studied at the Universities of Louvain, Paris, and Padua before becoming a professor of anatomy and surgery at the University of Padua. His primary contribution to the history of medicine was his emphasis on dissection and firsthand observation. Vesalius differed from his colleagues because he used his observations to challenge ancient and often inaccurate Greek and Roman medical writings, which formed the basis of all medical knowledge for over a thousand years.

presentation-flyerVesalius at 500 showcases materials from the Libraries’ collections that helped to shape Vesalius’ career, including medieval manuscripts and early printed books on medicine. The centerpiece of the exhibition is Vesalius’ most famous work, De Humani Corporis Fabrica. The Libraries hold two copies of this important book, a second edition printed in 1555, and a later edition from 1568. Recognizing MU’s strength in human and animal medical research, the exhibition considers Vesalius’ effect on the history of veterinary medicine with several early illustrated works on animal anatomy. Works of Renaissance science are also included in order to situate Vesalius within the world of sixteenth-century scientific thought.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Dr. Gheorghe M. Constantinescu, a professor of veterinary anatomy in the College of Veterinary Medicine at MU, will present “Andreas Vesalius: On the 500th Anniversary of His Birth” on November 12 at 12:00 pm. Dr. Constantinescu is a medical illustrator and author investigating the gross anatomy of domestic and laboratory animals. His presentation will be held in room 4f51a in Ellis Library.

Vesalius at 500: Student, Scholar, and Surgeon is curated by a team of rare book librarians from the J. Otto Lottes Health Sciences Library, the Zalk Veterinary Medical Library, and Ellis Library’s Special Collections and Rare Books department. The exhibition draws on MU Libraries’ special collections of more than 100,000 original artworks, manuscripts, rare books, and historic documents. The collections, exhibition, and lecture are all free and open to the public.

The gallery below contains a selection of images from De Humani Corporis Fabrica, and we will share more materials from the exhibition over the course of November.

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