Monday, January 20, 2014

How plastic surgery was introduced in England.

A pariah named Cowasjee was a bullockcart driver with the Company army at Chennai(Madras). In 1792, during the war with Tipu, he was a camp follower with the army.
That year following a skirmish, he, alongwith four other soldiers, was captured by Tipu's forces. The hands of the four soldiers were ordered to be cut, while Cowasjee had his nose cut off. They were then marched off towards Mumbai to serve as a lesson to the Conpany Sarkar.
On their way they halted at Pune, the de-facto capital of Maratha Empire, and the then ally of English Company.
Here, Charles Malet, the ambassador of Company to the Peshwa's court, came to know of the plight of these men. He immediately called for local Doctors(Vaidya) to tend to their wounds.
A Vaidya of Potter(Kumbhar) caste performed Plastic surgery on Cowasjee and restored his Nose.
This operation was witnessed by two English doctors, Thomas Cruso and James Findlay. Lt. Col. Ward, who had lately arrived from Mumbai, was present as well. After six months, James Wales, a painter of renown during those days, drew Cowasjee. This sketch alongwith the description of the operation was quickly published in the Madras Gazetteer of 1793.
In Oct 1794, The Gentlemen's Magazine published the details of this singular operation alongwith pictorial details.

"This fired the imagination of Dr. Joseph C. Carpue(1764–1840) of London. He conjured up the immense potential of the novel operation. Carpue got hold of details on the "Indian Nose", as it was called in surgical parlance.

"Carpue performed the first rhinoplastic operation in 37 minutes on October 23, 1814. It was a great success. This was followed by a second operation. The rhinoplasties were received with wide ovation. All at once the 'Indian Nose', as it is called in medical text, became the rage of the times in Europe."

NOTE: this is a repost for the Non-Marathi readers of this page.

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