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What to do Today: Get to Grips with Ayurveda at Wellcome Collection

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Stuck on what to do today? Let us help you. This Friday 9 March, we recommend that you head to Wellcome Collection for their Ayurvedic Man exhibition, before it closes next month…

If you often find yourself stuck for ideas of what to do, we’ve come to the rescue with our brand new ‘What To Do Today’ feature. We hand pick the best of what’s on in London and the country right now, whether a new restaurant, must-see show, exhibition ending soon or a pop-up that you must, ahem, pop in to. Check back every day for inspiration…

Ayurvedic Man: Encounters with Indian Medicine Exhibition

Indian Person Yogic Posture Ayurveda Exhibition

An Indian person in a yogic posture, gouache painting, 19th Century. Wellcome Library, London

This time last year the mainstream had never even heard of Ayurveda, yet it now seems to be the health buzzword du jour. If you’re still not sure what it is (or do and want to learn more), head to Wellcome Collection in Euston for an exhibition on its fascinating history – it’s your last chance, as it’s closing next month.

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Thanks to the Wellcome Collection’s vast collection of South Asian objects, the ‘Ayurvedic Man’ exhibition provides a fascinating insight into the centuries-old medicinal practices associated with Ayurveda. Sanskrit, Persian and Tibetan manuscripts, as well as paintings, diagrams, manuals and surgical tools, reveal how the medical practices and beliefs have evolved and changed from tradition to modernity.

‘At a time of growing popularity of pluralistic approaches to health, societies around the world are at increasing risk of losing natural resources, medicinal plants and traditional knowledge. Ayurvedic Man highlights the delicate balance between sharing and protecting heritage, cultural resources and environmental biodiversity.’

Ayurvedic Man Ayurveda Exhibition

The Ayurvedic Man, pen and watercolour, 18th Century. Wellcome Library, London

Particularly noteworthy are the never-before-seen letters to and from Dr Paira Mall who was sent to India in 1911 to collect pieces for Henry Wellcome’s museum, as well as local health knowledge which could provide leads for pharmaceutical product development. The correspondence provides an insight into the period with its concurrent collaboration, conflict and exploitation, the then-understanding of Indian medicine and wider issues of heritage.

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The exhibition will also include extracts from the Susruta Samhita, one of the foundational texts of Ayurveda and one of the earliest pieces of Indian medicinal literature. You’ll be surprised to find that the text outlines the likes of rhinoplasty (nasal reconstruction), hugely predating modern surgery. Gender, medical methods, anatomy, botanicals, historical events and public health policy will also come into play to provide visitors with an all-round and in-depth understanding of Ayurveda, ‘the knowledge of long life’.

Four Tantras Ayurveda Exhibition

Illustrated Medical Simples of the Four Tantras, Tibeto-Mongolian manuscript, ink and watercolour on paper, 19th century. Wellcome Library, London.

When & Where?

‘Ayurvedic Man: Encounters with Indian Medicine’ runs at Wellcome Collection until 8 April 2018. The museum is located at 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE

Find out more about the exhibition here.