Ganbaa learnt bloodletting skills from his father. Credit: Natasha Fijn

Ganbaa learnt bloodletting skills from his father. Credit: Natasha Fijn

Bloodletting in Mongolia: Three Visual Narratives

12th August 2020

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The ancient medical tradition of bloodletting in Mongolia is explored in a dynamic digital publication examining the significance of fluids and flows in the history of medicine.

Dr Natasha Fijn, a research fellow at The Australian National University’s Mongolia Institute, draws on research conducted in Mongolia in 2017 to discuss the tradition, which is practised on both humans and horses. “As an anthropologist who focuses on more than humans, I wanted to observe the different bloodletting techniques used on horses and how herders connect health and wellbeing with the seasons.”

Dr Fijn focuses on three experienced practitioners and their treatment of horses through bloodletting. “Bloodletting is viewed as a necessary skill to ensure that individual horses retain a good level of immunity in spring, and also to ensure that they become strong and healthy during the season of growth,” Dr Fijn writes.

The essay features in Fluid Matter(s): Flow and Transformation in the History of the Body, edited by Natalie Köhle and Shigehisa Kuriyama. The collection is presented as a digital publication incorporating visual effects and published by ANU Press.

Click here to read Bloodletting in Mongolia: Three Visual Narratives.

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