Replica of Ayurvedic surgical instrument representing a curlew

1901-1930 in India

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'curlew'-shaped forceps, steel, Indian. straight full veiw on graduated black matt background.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

'curlew'-shaped forceps, steel, Indian

Ancient instrument designs incorporated the heads of animals. This replica example represents a bird, possibly a curlew or a crane. The original was likely used within Ayurvedic medicine. This ancient medical tradition has its roots in the Indian subcontinent. The name Ayurveda comes from ayus (‘life’) and veda (‘knowledge or science’). This indicates Ayurveda incorporates a whole way of living. Surgery (Shalya-chikitsa) is one of the eight ancient branches of Ayurvedic medicine. However, surgery has no clear identity today.

The Susrata Samhita is a classic text of Ayurvedic medicine. It describes a range of surgical practices. It was written by Hindu surgeon Susrata who practiced from about 500BCE.


Asian Medicine
Object Number:
surgical instrument
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
  • surgical equipment
  • derivative object
  • copy - derivative object
  • reproduction
Loan: Wellcome Trust

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