Neurophilosophy

C19th Japanese anatomical scrolls

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The Kaibo Zonshinzu is a beautiful collection of 83 anatomical illustrations on two scrolls, by a doctor named Yasukazu Minagaki from the Kyoto area. Painted in 1819, they are based on the observations he made during his dissections of more than 40 executed criminals.

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Minagaki adopted the style of illustrators such as Johann Adam Kulmus. His drawings were seen by Philipp von Siebold, the Dutch anatomist who is believed to have been the first European to teach Western medicine in Japan; he was so impressed by them that he made a complimentary inscription on the first scroll.

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The collection is considered to be the finest of all the early nineteenth century Japanese anatomical drawings, and is of great historical and cultural significance, as it documents the level of anatomical knowledge attained by physicians of the late Edo period. It is stored in the Rare Books Room at Keio University Library.

(These drawings were doing the rounds on the internet back in April – see Ectoplasmosis, Morbid Anatomy and Pink Tentacle. I meant to put them up back then, but I was busy preparing for my exams, so the post remained unpublished until now.)