During the Bubonic Plague, doctors wore these bird-like masks to avoid becoming sick. They would fill the beaks with spices and rose petals, so they wouldn’t have to smell the rotting bodies.
A theory during the Bubonic Plague was that the plague was caused by evil spirits. To scare the spirits away, the masks were intentionally designed to be creepy.
Mission fucking accomplished
Okay so I love this but it doesn’t cover the half of why the design is awesome and actually borders on making sense.
It wasn’t just that they didn’t want to smell the infected and dead, they thought it was crucial to protecting themselves. They had no way of knowing about what actually caused the plague, and so one of the other theories was that the smell of the infected all by itself was evil and could transmit the plague. So not only would they fill their masks with aromatic herbs and flowers, they would also burn fires in public areas, so that the smell of the smoke would “clear the air”. This all related to the miasma theory of contagion, which was one of the major theories out there until the 19th century. And it makes sense, in a way. Plague victims smelled awful, and there’s a general correlation between horrible septic smells and getting horribly sick if you’re around what causes them for too long.
You can see now that we’ve got two different theories as to what caused the plague that were worked into the design. That’s because the whole thing was an attempt by the doctors to cover as many bases as they could think of, and we’re still not done.
The glass eyepieces. They were either darkened or red, not something you generally want to have to contend with when examining patients. But the plague might be spread by eye contact via the evil eye, so best to ward that off too.
The illustration shows a doctor holding a stick. This was an examination tool, that helped the doctors keep some distance between themselves and the infected. They already had gloves on, but the extra level of separation was apparently deemed necessary. You could even take a pulse with it. Or keep people the fuck away from you, which was apparently a documented use.
Finally, the robe. It’s not just to look fancy, the cloth was waxed, as were all of the rest of their clothes. What’s one of the properties of wax? Water-based fluids aren’t absorbed by it. This was the closest you could get to a sterile, fully protecting garment back then. Because at least one person along the line was smart enough to think “Gee, I’d really rather not have the stuff coming out of those weeping sores anywhere on my person”.
So between all of these there’s a real sense that a lot of real thought was put into making sure the doctors were protected, even if they couldn’t exactly be sure from what. They worked with what information they had. And frankly, it’s a great design given what was available! You limit exposure to aspirated liquids, limit exposure to contaminated liquids already present, you limit contact with the infected. You also don’t give fleas any really good place to hop onto. That’s actually useful.
Beyond that, there were contracts the doctors would sign before they even got near a patient. They were to be under quarantine themselves, they wouldn’t treat patients without a custodian monitoring them and helping when something had to be physically contacted, and they would not treat non-plague patients for the duration. There was an actual system in place by the time the plague doctors really became a thing to make sure they didn’t infect anyone either.
These guys were the product of the scientific process at work, and the scientific process made a bitchin’ proto-hazmat suit. And containment protocols!
god I love these fuckin things
- 16 year old child: mom, dad: I'm gay/lesbian/bi/pan
- Straight parents: you're too young to know what your sexuality is! It's just a phase.
- Baby boy: *stares at a baby girl for no reason other than the fact that babies stare at everything*
- Straight parents: oooh! Ladies man! We're gonna have to keep the girls offa you!
i gotta be honest with you here i would feel no greater joy on this earth right now than beating the everloving shit out of this fucking pear, it just feels natural, like it’s the right thing to do, its exterior looks so inviting for my fists to cave in, you know it would probably enjoy it too, probably think it’s funny, i don’t even think it can feel pain so in the end we’re all winners
What’s so great to me about this line—I had to pause afterwards and hyperventilate for a few minutes, and about half of that wasn’t the fault of Paul McGann being on-screen—is that it references not only Looming, but the War Looms.
See, Time Lords aren’t really big on having physical forms, or, in fact, being involved in anything at all that has to do with leaving Gallifrey or interacting with lesser species in any capacity.
Deprived of organic evolution, deprived of the spur of mortality, the the last ten-million years of their existence the [Time Lords] have been locked in a form of cultural stasis. They see themselves as monumental, as the severe, stone-faced guardians on the walls of eternity. They have no interest in progress: they consider it beneath them. They have no interest in high culture: they consider it incomprehensible. Their own biological heritage bothers them… yet at the same time they lack the will to reshape (or even leave behind) their bodies, unless the War should demand it.
Well, the War did demand it, and so some more genetic variations were made. Looms were built purely for a new caste, one of warriors. They started the War in humanoid forms. They did not end it that way.
[There was a notion of military regeneration:] field-agents whose biologies were engineered so that with every re-birth their bodies would become stronger, faster, and better-equipped for whatever tasks may lie ahead. […] Although at first these [regenerations] merely left the soldiers with enhanced bodies, with built-in resistance to the more blatant forms of post-nuclear warfare (for the frontline troops), or special temporal lobes designed to enhance communications [with Gallifrey] (in the case of comms officers), the process was soon refined. It wasn’t long before soldiers were primed so that with every transformation they’d become less and less hominid, their bodies armoured against all known forms of enemy attack, with biological weapons systems “fitted as standard”…the ultimate regenerative forms of the soldiers would…be entirely non-hominid; no limbs, no visible head, each agent a self-contained and blast-proofed unit laced with sensitive tripwire nerve-endings.
Even before the utilisation of the War Looms, there were many parallels between the Time Lords and the Daleks: they’re both starkly xenophobic and change-resistant races which can’t quite be called “species”; they propagate themselves not by biological procreation but with highly-advanced machinery which places a living consciousness within a casing, whether that casing be metal or flesh; they both lack a real sense of individuality, with Daleks nameless clones and Gallifreyans a hivemind; even the Matrix and the Pathweb share many similarities!
Who can tell the difference anymore indeed? One of these is a Dalek mutant: the other is a Time Lord soldier. Can you tell which is which?