Cynocephali and Blemmyae. Congenital anomalies and medieval exotic races

C. A. Bos, B. Baljet

Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd, December, 1999, 143-151

"In the mediaeval Dutch manuscript Der naturen bloeme ('On the flowers of nature') by Jacob van Maerlant (circa 1230-circa 1296), an encyclopaedia of descriptions of people, animals, plants and minerals dating from about 1270, many illustrations refer to the text. An intriguing part of the book is called 'Vreemde volkeren' ('Exotic people'). In another manuscript of Van Maerlant, Dit is die istory van Troyen ('The history of Troyes') in the chapter 'De wonderen van het Verre Oosten' ('The miracles of the Far East') the exotic people are also described. These exotic people have many features similar to congenital malformations. 'Hippopodes' are probably based on the lobster claw syndrome, 'Cynocephali' on anencephaly, 'Arimaspi' on cyclopia, 'Blemmyae' on acardiacus, the double-faced on diprosopus, 'Sciopods' on polydactyly and 'Antipodes' on the sirenomelia sequence."

Language: Dutch


Last update December 11, 2021