Dominik Wujastyk ucgadkw at UCL.AC.UK
Fri Oct 6 15:10:48 UTC 2000

On Thu, 5 Oct 2000, Swaminathan Madhuresan wrote:

> It looks inoculation was widely in use in Europe dating to at least
> 17th century.

Lady Mary brought the technique of *inoculation* from Istanbul in 1717.
It was not widely known in Europe before that date.

The precursor practice your author refers to as "buying the smallpox" was
not, as far as recorded sources show, inoculation.  It consisted in going
to a victim's house and buying smallpox scabs; sometimes these were rubbed
on the back of the hand.  There is no clear evidence of the skin being
broken in these transactions, and certainly no medical understanding of
the purpose of the action.  The general belief seems to have been that one
could attract the "kindly pox", which sounds a little like some
traditional attitudes to Mariamman/Sitala in India.

If this topic interests you, may I suggest Genevieve Miller's fine study,
_The adoption of inoculation for smallpox in England and France_
(Philadelphia: Univ. of Penn. Press, 1957), which gives lots more detail
and reference.

Dominik Wujastyk
Founder, INDOLOGY list.

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list