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Image of the Week: A good egg?

25 Mar, 2016

L0013528 A new born child stepping out of a broken egg Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images A new born child stepping out of a broken egg Engraving Histoire des accouchements chez tous les peuples Gustave-Joseph Alphonse Witkowski Published: 1889 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

With Easter celebrations getting underway today, we’re bound to see more than a few eggs around. Most are likely to be of a chocolate variety, rather than the type portrayed here in our Image of the Week.

This rather startling image of a baby emerging from its ‘shell’ is an engraving that features in a book titled ‘Histoire des accouchements chez tous les peuples’ (History of births among all people). Published in 1887, the book is described as a ‘complete dogmatic study of delivery’ and includes literary stories and anecdotes of birthing experiences dating from antiquity to what was then the present day.

One peculiar story described in the book features a French woman who supposedly gave birth to two eggs. They were taken to the Academy of Science in Paris and later hatched to reveal two pigeon chicks.

Eggs have been a traditional part of Easter celebrations since before the Middle Ages and are symbolic of new life. Early Easter eggs may have been a decorated duck or hens’ egg, with France and Germany leading the move towards the modern decorative chocolate eggs we know today in the early 19th century.

We hope you all have a nice break, don’t forget that Wellcome Collection is open as usual this weekend, including Bank Holiday Monday.

Image credit: A new born child stepping out of a broken egg; Wellcome Library, London

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