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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Interesting Portrayal of Adult Circumcision

In reading something else, I came across this positive description of an adult circumcision - done for conversion purposes - in 1844. The writer is a physician, William Clay Wallace, a non-Jew, and his narrative flows from the perspective of the neutral reporting anthropologist to the admiring physician who could not replicate what he saw when he tried to perform a similar operation.

See it here:

It's amazing to me how the person in question seems to have been circumcised the same way mohels circumcize babies, and how the focus seemed to be on getting the bleeding to stop through cold water and lint (?). He leaves no indication of longer term bandaging, and makes no mention of suturing. I don't know if the aftereffects would pass the cosmetics test and muster of today, but I still found the account fascinating.

Let me know what you think in the comments here!

1 comment:

  1. Glad you enjoyed it.

    With regards to the method of stopping the bleeding, in R. Yehuda Aryeh Modena's Historia de Riti Hebraici (written in the 1630s) he describes the dressing process as follows:

    "Then doth he clap upon the wound some Sanguis Draconis, Powder of Corall , and other Restringent things, wrapping it about with plaisters of Oyl of Roses ; and so binding it up close, the Child is swathed again." (From the 1650 English translation; >Sanguis Draconis is Dragon's Blood.)


    Regarding the manner of stopping the bleeding, although certainly 1844 was already the modern period, it should not be surprising if in some quarters modern medicine yet lagged, even in New York. But as you note since Wallace mentions nothing about long-term bandaging, and most certainly there had to have been some after care, then maybe that was more to it.


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