Since childhood, I remember this terrible image. A man in a long black cloak with a bird’s head and a strange hat. Where could I meet him? Probably on TV, in some books … Maybe even in school textbooks: in the History of the Middle Ages, for example.
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In the age of the Internet and all kinds of TV shows, this terrifying picture of a silent person with a beak is even more common.
Today this image is generally mainstream! After all, the closest association with the k-virus pandemic is PLAGUE. And the sinister bird-man, as we all know from somewhere, is her symbol.
Good. This is a symbol of the plague.
But what does this strange appearance mean ?! Why is he so phantasmagoric and chilling?
I confess that until recently I did not know the answer to these questions at all. I am almost sure that many do not know the explanation of the mask with a beak to this day.
In the Middle Ages, when the plague (or black death) raged throughout the world, people tried in every way to stop it. The line of defense was kept, as at all times during epidemics, by natural scientists and doctors. They tried to treat infected people, they contacted them, and they buried the corpses of the dead in common burial grounds.
These doctors were called plague doctors.
Since the 17th century, a distinctive feature of the plague doctors has become a special protective suit with an original nose mask resembling a bird’s beak.
The plague doctor costume appeared in 1619 when the French physician Charles de Lorme offered a complete set of protective clothing for doctors dealing with plague patients.
The costume proposed by de Lorme was made with an eye on the leather armor of the light infantry. In addition to the characteristic “beaky” mask, it included a long, from neck to ankles, cloak, tight trousers, gloves, boots and a hat. All elements of the costume were made of waxed leather or, at worst, from a rough canvas impregnated with wax.
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It was believed that a mask with a beak, giving the doctor the appearance of the ancient Egyptian god Thoth (with the head of an ibis), wards off the disease. But the beak also had a functional load: it protected the doctor from the “disease-causing odor”, that is, it was the prototype of modern respirators.
The beak or its tip was filled with strong-smelling medicinal herbs that made it easier to breathe in the constant plague stench. And since the plague doctor constantly chewed garlic for prevention, the beak protected others from the garlic smell.
In addition, the doctor placed incense on a special sponge in the nostrils and ears. To prevent him from suffocating from all this bouquet of smells, there were two small ventilation holes in the beak. Like modern gas masks, the mask had glass inserts to protect the eyes.
(based on Wikipedia)
Thus, the plague doctor became the symbol of the plague. Thanks to its unusual and creepy-looking costume and mask.
The beak mask itself was not designed to instill terror and doom among people, but to protect the doctor himself. In fact, it was the prototype of a modern gas mask, only with a direct smoke-scent of incense.
Yes, yes, that’s right. But, Lord Jesus, such a “doctor” will dream at night – you can’t wave an ax!
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