For at least six centuries, the inspection of urines was a demonstration, like the examination by stethoscope in a later era, of the physician’s ability to recognize symptoms hidden to ordinary people. This ability is dramatized here by the senior doctor who, in full academic garb with the professor’s distinctive hat, toga, and stole, points at a flask in a gesture of understanding and teaching, instructing the four junior colleagues accompanying him what “signs” or diagnosis he reads in the urine, as in “Grand Rounds.”
In this illustration, as in others in the book, the images are reversed because of the woodblock printing process; this creates some images that would have been disturbing to many of the late medieval period: people point or carry things using their left hand, which would have been considered rude in the extreme. Earlier editions of this book have the images in mirror reversal, showing the use of the right hand instead. even be patients but messengers who have brought, in the prominently displayed baskets, the urines of others for examination.