Sunday, October 17, 2010
The Plague Fields
I've always been fascinated by the various outbreaks of The Black Death, but I've now found something just as fascinating - Plague Doctors. It's said that they were probably, in the end, more responsible for transporting the disease than curing it and - hey, turns out most of them were volunteers and not doctors at all, as most doctors would have already fled the region knowing there was no help they could give. The Plague Doctors (so fun to draw, as you can see) would usually just show up, diagnose who had the Plague and who didn't, then would cordone areas off as "Plague Fields" to burn the hundreds and thousands of afflicted bodies.
What's so interesting and certainly sinister about these Plague Doctors was their appearance - a crude prototype of a gasmask, usually looking like a bird's beak (herbs would be placed in the nose to "filter" the "bad air"), and red-tinted glass portholes for eyes that, due to the red-tinting, would purportedly ward off evil. There was also the strange black tophat and full, long, black trenchcoat, usually topped off with a black walking cane to prod with. Creepy characters indeed. If you saw a man approach dressed as a tall dark bird-like creature, then you knew death was coming soon.
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