Page 51 - Science India August 2022
P. 51

India’s Prime Right to Have its Nose in the Air
The complex surgery of nose reconstruction was innovated in India centuries before western science got a handle on it
  Image Courtesy:
n Dr V Ramanathan
Dignity has been paramount and an inevi- table part of human existence. Earning and safeguarding dignity has been a relentless pursuit for it is as essential as other basic existential necessities. If one couldn’t visibly wear their dignity on their sleeves, they did carry it on their nose! This protruding appendage has been the vassal of human dignity and epicentre of psycho-social afflic- tions. Civilisations across the world have associated similar traits to this wonder organ which not only draws the air for the sustenance of life in the body but also gives a fillip to the ego. Hence, disfiguring it or mutilating it has been a method of indictment enjoying the approval of the ancient and medieval societies where the stigma was, paradoxically, even more than the capital punishment as the subject who had been thus physically reprimanded lived on to experience the humiliation throughout their life. Losing nose on getting defeated in a duel was also commonplace. For instance, the famous Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe lost a portion of his nose in one such duel following which, he used to wear a gold appendage affixed by a glue, throughout his life.
We have the famous stories across geog- raphy and instances involving the nose — from Surpanakha in Ramayana who ended up getting her nose mutilated as a riposte to her sinister amo- rous approaches, to the Italian fictional protagonist, Pinocchio, whose nose grew longer every time he lied. There are several allusions to nasal amputation as a form of punishment mentioned in the Artha-
An illustration depicting a vaidya checking his patient’s pulse

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