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Cupping set, London, England, 1821-1825

Cupping was a method of bloodletting – a practice once carried out to treat a wide range of diseases and medical conditions. Warm glass cups were placed on the skin to draw blood to the surface of the skin. In wet cupping, the blood was released from the body using a lancet or scarificator (a set of spring-operated lancets). The set was made by John Weiss, a surgical instrument maker based in London.

Object number:

A600144

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    Glossary: cupping set

    Set of instruments to practice cupping. The purpose of cupping was to draw what was considered to be bad matter in the blood toward selected places in the body at the surface of the skin, away from vital organs.

    Glossary: cupping

    The application of a heated cup to the skin, creating a slight vacuum , which causes swelling of the tissues beneath and an increase in the flow of blood to the area. This was thought to draw out harmful excess blood from diseased organs nearby and so promote healing.

    Glossary: bloodletting

    Puncturing a vein in order to withdraw blood. A popular medical practice for over two thousand years. Bloodletting often involved withdrawing large quantities of blood in the belief that this would cure or prevent many illnesses and diseases. The practice has been abandoned for all but a few very specific conditions.