Coil of dried eel skin, United Kingdom, 1880-1930

Made:
1880-1930 in United Kingdom
maker:
Unknown
Coils of eel skin. Group shot of, from left to right A665585 Coil of eel skin strip, amuletic worn round finger to cure, ward off cramp,

Buy this image as a print 

Buy

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

License

Coils of eel skin. Group shot of, from left to right A665585 Coil of eel skin strip, amuletic worn round finger to cure, ward off cramp,
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Eel skin coiled to fit round finger to cure and ward off cramp, probably English, 1880-1930

The growing influence of biomedicine in the 1800s did not necessarily replace established forms of treatment based on belief and superstition. What could be referred to as folk medicine – customs that often went back generations – continued to be practised. For example, eel skins wrapped around the finger to ward off cramp were a Scottish medical tradition. The eel had first to be killed, skinned and then dried out to keep its coiled shape. Garters of eel skin around the thigh were also worn in Suffolk to prevent rheumatism and cramp.

Details

Category:
Ethnography and Folk Medicine
Object Number:
A665586
type:
eel skin, folk medicine (therapy) and eel skin, folk medicine (therapy) and therapeutic amulets
taxonomy:
  • animal remains
  • fish remains
  • fish-skin
  • animal remains
  • fish remains
  • fish-skin