The Plague Doctor back patch
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Plague Doctors have been around since the mid 500s and were specialized physicians who would treat those afflicted with plague epidemics. The most severe break out is known as the Black Plague and occurred in Europe during the 14th century. In the early 1600s plague doctors began wearing a particularly ominous looking costume which is now the most common image of these doctors that we know today. They wore black waxed coats that extended to the floor, a bird-like leather mask, and a wide-brimmed hat which was sign of their profession. Plague Doctors also carried a wooden cane which was a tool that allowed the doctors to examine patients without touching them. The most iconic part of the plague doctor costume is the leather mask that has glass eye holes and an extended nose much like that of a bird’s beak. This long beak was stuffed with potent herbs and flowers to mask the scent of the sick patients. It was believed that the plague was passed through infected air and these special aromatic masks were a kind of filter. Plague Doctor’s principal tasks were to take care of plague victims as well as record all plague-related deaths in the public records. They were the only people allowed to perform autopsies which were generally forbidden in Medieval Europe.
The Plague Doctor is original artwork hand drawn and screenprinted by Adrienne Rozzi of Poison Apple Printshop.