Get out the shaving brush now

Not surprisingly, head louse pictures are not very thick on the ground, so we had to scour far and wide to find interesting and varied images for the book. Justine found this reference to the Hortus Sanitatis, ‘The Garden of Health’ printed around 1491.

Grooming 15th century style.

In the end, we didn’t get to use this great image in the book. The picture budget did not stretch far enough. So I’ve taken the liberty of snatching a screen-grab from the University of Aberdeen Library website (you have to click on the ‘printed collections’ tab to see it).

At first, it seems an unlikely implement being used to ferret out the lice — more like a shaving brush than a nit comb. But the text below is very particular, and although I can’t read the Latin, I can make out ‘pedicula’, ‘pediculisunt’ and ‘pediculosi in corpe’. The anatomy (and size) of the lice leave a lot to be desired, too, but I suspect the bored tolerance of the groomer is very true to life.


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