Comparative Guts

Body metaphors including guts

20th century reproduction of 17th century CE painting. Held in Ulan-Ude, Republic of Buryatia, Russia

The musculoskeletal system is likened to the architecture of a Tibetan temple, while internal organs, differentiated as solid (vital) and hollow (vessel) types, use different illustrative metaphors. The group of solid viscera include the heart, lungs, liver, spleen, and kidneys, each being individually likened to male and female representatives of the Tibetan royal family and entourage. The heart is likened to the king, surrounded by lobes of the lungs which represent ministers, princes and princesses. The liver is likened to a senior queen, the spleen to a junior queen. The large and small intestines are considered servants of them (liver and spleen). Hollow viscera are mainly equated with different pouch-like objects of everyday life: the stomach to a cooking pot, the gallbladder to a sachet full of spices, the urinary bladder to a bucket, and the vesicle for reproduction samseu (bsam se’u) to a treasury full of gems. 

— Katharina Sabernig