Monday, December 5, 2011

Wives Tales

Another curious exhibit at the Museum of Jurassic Technology was on folk remedies and superstitions, the glass-enclosed displays for which held various vignettes illustrating the "vulgar knowledge" that was prescribed way back when to cure whatever it was that ailed ya.

For instance, mouse cures were apparently some of the oldest beliefs featured in the exhibition wherein mice are caught and prepared for a wide array of health concerns from whooping cough to chilblains (frostbite). It was thought that bed wetting could be controlled by eating mice on toast, fur and all (above). Another delicacy in the same display case called Mouse Pie was thought to straighten out children who stammered if eaten on a regular basis.

A case labeled Salted Teeth described the practice of covering extracted teeth in salt, then burning them to ward against an animal finding and chewing them and in so doing, turning whatever new tooth that grew in the child's mouth into a tooth that looked liked the animal's that found it. Quite a mouthful.

Apparently if a child had thrush they could put the bill of a duck or goose in their mouth and inhale their cold breath, correcting whatever mouth fungus or throat disorder that may have plagued them. I couldn't imagine finding a duck that would sit still long enough to let you put its bill in your mouth. Or a child for that matter.

Some of the displays offered warnings rather than health advice. The one above contained two disembodied wax hands clasped around a little bird to illustrate the knowledge that holding a dying creature during childhood would leave the offender with trembling hands for life. 

There were a few other interesting displays in the exhibition, but as you can see, it was so dimly lit in there that I couldn't get too many clear photos. It did help add to the unsettling atmosphere of the place though, which of course made it one of the best things I'd seen that week. I can't imagine a better treat than dead, stuffed mice spread on toast.

- Cathleen

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...