18th Century Cupping Lamp

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A brass European cupping lamp from the 18th Century (with two bronze cups). The lamp would be filled with oil or animal fat and a wick would be pulled under the pin across the spout. The lit flame would be held under the cups to “exhaust” them of air prior to being placed on the skin.

As the air cooled the resulting vacuum would cause the skin to tumefy. If the skin was punctured with a lancet or scarificator beforehand the blood would collect in the cups. These pieces would have made up part of a cupping set with various lancets and scarificators as shown in the example from History of Medicine Museum in Florence (Picture from the German edition of “Histoire de la Médicine, de la Pharmacie, de l´Art Dentaire et de l´Art Vétérinaire”). A similar set can also be seen in the Josephinum Museum in Vienna.

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