Imaging Uncovers Secrets of Medicine's Mysterious Ivory Manikins
Little is known about the origins of manikins-small anatomical sculptures thought to be used by doctors four centuries ago-but now advanced imaging techniques have offered a revealing glimpse inside these captivating ivory dolls. Researchers using micro-CT successfully identified the material composition and components of several ancient ivory manikins, according to a new study being presented next week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).
Ivory manikins are typically thought to have been carved in Germany in the late 17th century. They are reclining human figurines, 4-8 inches long, generally female, which open to reveal removable organs and sometimes a fetus attached with a fabric "umbilical" cord. The manikins have intricately carved features, and some even have pillows beneath their heads. It is believed that they were used for the study of medical anatomy or perhaps as a teaching aid for pregnancy and childbirth. By the 18th century, they had been replaced by more realistic teaching tools, such as wax models and cadavers. The manikins then became objects of curiosity and luxury status symbols in private collec...