Artificial hand and forearm, 1601-1700
The jointed thumb and fingers of this large artificial hand and forearm are hollow and bend at the knuckle. This possibly was to allow a forward bending motion, much like a waving gesture. The arm once contained an internal mechanical structure allowing the fingers basic movement. It was probably designed for a man and dates from the 1600s. Most limbs were amputated in this era due to war injuries or accidents. French military surgeon Ambroise Paré (1510-90) produced many books on surgery in the 16th century. He described new operations and treatments. He gained experience as a private surgeon to generals in the French Army. In his writings he described artificial substitutes he devised to replace amputated limbs. Some were simple. Others were elaborate highly-mechanised devices that simulated the natural movement and function of the limb.
Related Themes and Topics
The branch of medicine concerned with the preservation and restoration of the muscular and skeletal systems in the body.
Artificial body parts, or materials inserted into tissue for functional, cosmetic, or therapeutic effect. Prostheses can be functional (artificial arms and legs), or cosmetic (artificial eye).
Glossary: artificial hand