Friday, October 31, 2014

Two Interpretations for the Star of David as a Medical Symbol

Source: Schat der Gesontheyt (1672) by J. van Beverwijk

Jan Schouten  wrote a book about "The Pentagram as a Medical Symbol - An Iconological Study" (1968) where he claims that it was a medical symbol in the 16th century and brings some cases of hexagrams that seem to him to be mistaken pentagrams. Ewa Chojecka in her review of this book (Isis, Vol. 60, No. 2 (Summer, 1969), pp. 242-244) has another interpretation for these hexagrams:
"llustrators of this kind of imagery were usually quite accurate in drawing iconographic details, and by ignoring this one might easily fall victim to the pitfalls of wishful thinking. For example, the woman enthroned on a socle adorned with hexagram and cornucopiae from J. van Beverwijk's Schat der Gesontheyt (1672, Plt. 31- See Above), identified by Schonten as personified-Health-with-corrupted-pentagram, is in fact closely analogous (with the same attributes—hexagram and horn of plenty) to a personification an the title page of M. Merian's Musaeum Hermneticum (Frankfort, 1677), where she is a symbol of Nature.

Source: M. Merian's Musaeum Hermneticum (Frankfort, 1677)

Again, hexagrams on the series of German eighteenth-century pharmaceutical jars (Plt. 38) are most probably not misinterpreted pentagrams but, together with the two ravens and the sun painted above them, rather seem to he alchemical symbols (the black raven symbol of the liest phase of alchemical transmutation, the nigredo; the hexagram - sign of the materia prima)". 

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