Comparative Guts

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Representation of a woman with the distribution of the blood vessels and the internal organs (f. 15v)

Manṣūr ibn Ilyās (fl. 14th c.), Tashrīḥ-i badan-i insān. Images from: Teheran MS Majlis 7430. Undated.

This image represents the heart, lungs, liver, esophagus/larynx, stomach, intestines, kidneys, and spleen). As in the male representation, the organs involved in digestion are coloured in yellow. This illustration also depicts a foetus inside the womb. Female representations do not appear in the European Fünfbilderserie and seem to be proper of the Iranian tradition.

This treatise by Manṣūr ibn Ilyās, composed in 1386 and extant in numerous copies, is the first original anatomical work written in Islamic lands featuring representantions of the human body to illustrate the chapters on bones, nerves, muscles, veins and arteries. It has been argued that these illustrations are of European inspiration, following the model of the so-called Fünfbilderserie, a collection of five illustrations in which different anatomical features are represented in images of the human body as seen from above.

Manṣūr ibn Ilyās’ treatise usually contains five illustrations, but this number may vary from manuscript to manuscript. The intestines, together with other internal organs, are always represented in the two illustrations depicting the distribution of veins and arteries along the body. One of these two images is sometimes repeated to represent a woman with a foetus in her uterus.