Costume Conundrum?

By Ginny A. Roth

 

Still looking for a costume idea for Halloween?  You have a few hours left to make this important decision. There’s always the option of going as the ubiquitous vampire.  Or you can grab a cape and dress as one of the many super-heroes protecting our streets during the scariest night of the year.  Of course there are always other options. Have you ever considered… a medical costume?

The image featured above is an illustration by Warja Honegger-Lavater, a Swiss artist who created a series of 12 prints that make up the 1962 publication 2300 Years of Medical Costume: Distinctive Garb of the Medical and Related Professions from the Time of Hippocrates and the Napoleonic Era.  The vibrant prints are drawn from authentic costume replicas in the University of Rome’s Institute of Medical History. The gallery below features the other 11 color prints from the collection:

 

 

Note the elaborate robes, coats, sandals, and hats that are indicative of the clothing of the eras in which they were worn.  Do these costumes look complicated?  Well, maybe so.  But you will most likely be the only physician of Rome during the Empire walking around your neighborhood asking for candy.

These prints can also be found on the National Library of Medicine’s Images from the History of Medicine database. 

 

portrait of Ginny outside Ginny A. Roth is the Curator of Prints & Photographs in the History of Medicine Division at the National Library of Medicine.