[INDOLOGY] Ancient medical practices

Jim Ryan jim_ryan at comcast.net
Sat Jan 27 19:53:36 UTC 2024


In the Tamil epic Cīvakacintāmaṇi (@9th century CE) several times warriors wounded in battle are said to be treated by having their wounds wrapped in rat hair (elimayir) blankets or cloth. sometimes I translated this as “rat fur,” though it may imply that rat’s skin was taken with the hair. That would mean the rat was dead, probably killed, and this the Jains (whose text this is) would abhor, we’d think. But I couldn’t imagine how rat hair could somehow be shaved off and woven into cloth. Anyway, in an internet search (see below) out of curiosity I found that, in fact, rat fur is currently used to treat wounds in diabetics. It appears that the keratin in the fur, because it is biodegradable, allows the fur to help bind the wound and, as it heals, the hair of the fur sort of melts away, leaving a cleanly healed wound. Well, it solved a mystery for me, and showed that sometimes modern discoveries aren’t so new.

There is no reference to "rat hair" in the Index des mots de la literature tamoule ancienne.  

I'm wondering whether this medical treatment has ever been referenced in Sanskrit literature.

I recently googled: "rat fur for healing" and got this:
How Rat Fur can Help Diabetics Heal Wounds

Jim Ryan
Asian Philosophies and Cultures (Emeritus)
California Institute of Integral Studies
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