Research on Transport of Medical Knowledge from Tamilnadu

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The Medical Skills of the Malabar Doctors in Tranquebar, India as Recorded by Surgeon T L F Folly, 1798

The research paper on the medical skills of Tamil people of 17th century AD was recorded by A Danish surgeon T L F Folly. NIKLAS THODE JENSEN, a PhD scholar of Department of History, The Saxo Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark traced out the foot prints of the interesting story of documentation of the Danish surgeon and has been retold facts of Medical knowledge of Tamil people on those days.

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Map of Tranquebar, by Peter Anker, governor of Tranquebar from 1788 to 1807, c. 1800. (© Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo, Norway; photo: Ann Christine Eek)

Excerpts from the paper

"The literature about Tranquebar under Danish rule is primarily in Danish and has not previously dealt with issues of health and medicine. The main focus has been on either political history or the history of the Protestant mission in Tranquebar. An excellent account of the former is found in the standard three volume history of the Danish East Indies by Gunnar Olsen, Kamma Struwe and Aage Rasch,2 and inKolonierne i Asien og Afrika by Ole Feldbæk and Ole Justesen.3 These sources are old but offer a comprehensive history of the Danish involvement in India; while an excellent account of the Christian mission in Tranquebar is given in Anders Nørgaard's PhD thesis Mission und Obrigkeit: die dänisch-hallische Mission in Tranquebar, 1706–1845.4 A more recent approach to the history of Tranquebar—at least for the issues of health and medicine—has come from anthropology. The Danish anthropologist Esther Fihl has written about the social, political and economical interactions between the Indian society and the Danish colonial power.5A similar approach from a historical vantage point has been used by the Danish historian Niels Brimnes. In his book Constructing the colonial encounter, he uses caste conflicts in colonial Madras and Tranquebar to untangle the complex interactions between the Indians and the colonial powers.6 Very recently, and of interest for the issues dealt with in this article, Brimnes has moved on to deal with indigenous doctors in South India. In his article ‘Coming to terms with the native practitioner: indigenous doctors in colonial service in South India, 1800–1825’, Brimnes reveals how European doctors and administrators came to perceive South Indian physicians during the first twenty-five years of the nineteenth century.7Presumably, these Indian physicians in British service originated from the same group or culture of south Indian physicians as those described by Folly in Tranquebar in the 1790s. Thus Folly's remarks on the south Indian physicians in Tranquebar are an early contribution to the European perceptions of south Indian physicians revealed and discussed by Brimnes."

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