Mandrake root, England, 1501-1700

Made:
1501-1700 in England
Specimen of mandrake root, probably carved to enhance human resemblence, English, 1501-1700. Black background. Specimen of mandrake root, probably carved to enhance human resemblence, English, 1501-1700 Specimen of mandrake root, probably carved to enhance human resemblence, English, 1501-1700

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Specimen of mandrake root, probably carved to enhance human resemblence, English, 1501-1700. Black background.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Specimen of mandrake root, probably carved to enhance human resemblence, English, 1501-1700
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London

Specimen of mandrake root, probably carved to enhance human resemblence, English, 1501-1700
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London

Specimen of mandrake root (Mandragora sp. (Solanaceae)), probably carved to enhance human resemblence, English, 1501-1700

Anthropomorphic objects are those whose shape resembles that of a human. They have often been attributed with special powers or healing properties. Mandrake roots have long been associated with pagan beliefs and magic rituals. They have also had a range of medical applications.

Such was the perceived resemblance to the human form that mandrake roots were said to scream when pulled from the ground. Medically, they were believed to improve fertility although in ancient Greece, wine infused with mandrake root was used to numb patients before surgery.

Details

Category:
Ethnography and Folk Medicine
Object Number:
A635030
Materials:
complete, plant extract and root
Measurements:
overall (lying flat): 88 mm x 126 mm x 235 mm, .204 kg
type:
mandrake root