Sweetening the pill: containers for medicines

The majority of objects in the Casey Wood collection, as well as many of those in the Colombo and Kandy museums, are containers for medicines. Among them are a great variety of shapes and sizes, often matched to the specific types of medicine they were intended to contain. As Casey Wood himself noted, the pill […]

The Migration of Form: Watches, Clocks and Locks

Some of the most ornate items in the Casey Wood collection are killōṭaya or lime cases. These are usually made from copper, brass more rarely from a precious metal and sometimes from iron or steel. The lime was combined with betel leaves and spices and chewed. These elaborate cases served as status symbols among those who […]

The vederala and the kaparula

Among the Casey Wood papers in the Osler Library (box file 4/6/5)  is a paper entitled ‘The Outfit of a Native Doctor (Vederala) in Ancient and Medieval Times’ that he intended for publication in the journal Annals of Medical History. As far as I know, the paper was never actually published. The article describes the dress […]

What is an ola?

Our last few posts in this blog have focused on the medical objects in Casey Wood’s collections, about 200 items in all. Casey Wood also collected around the same number of palm leaf manuscripts, or ‘olas’, many of which are in the Osler library and the Rare Books Department at McGill. What is an ‘ola’? […]

Nāri-latā-vẹla: when women grow on trees

These doors from the Embekke Devalaya temple in Daulagala, near Kandy in the Central Province of Sri Lanka provide a beautiful example of nāri-latā-vẹla: a mythological vine growing in the Himalayas which produces women ‘in all wise of perfect beauty, glorious in grace’. As Coomaraswamy (1956, p. 92-3) notes, this very common Kandyan design has […]

The Areca Nut Cutters

As Nick wrote in his last post, each of the Casey Wood objects tells its own story, both for its original creators and for the modern observer. The object I will discuss today is less immediately stiking than the blindness mask, but its story leads us right to the creation of the world. Like most […]

Objects and Strategies: The Demon of Blindness

After posting the last entry, I decided not to include a series of images as originally planned, but instead to pick out one image of a museum object to discuss in greater depth.  I learnt through my time as a museum volunteer, and as a postgraduate researcher, that a useful strategy for building a compelling […]

Slow beginnings…

Welcome to the Casey Wood Collections Project, a blog dedicated to history in the making.  A hefty chunk of time has elapsed between the joint idea for this blog-site (January) and the appearance of my first post (today, 3 July), and I have learnt in the months between that to begin a blog about the […]

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