European Journal of Anatomy

Official Journal of The Spanish Society of Anatomy
Cover Volume 23 - Number 4
Eur J Anat, 23 (4): 313-314 (2019)

The Aleph and the écorché

David J. Jackowe

School of Health and Natural Sciences, Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522, USA

ABSTRACT The woodcuts in Vesalius' De humani corporis fabrica reflect both philosophical and theological ideas. A previously unrecognized Hebrew symbol in De humani is the écorché in the second muscle tableau. Its pose is evocative of an Aleph, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The Aleph is a symbol of the brain and represents the highest level of knowledge and wisdom beneath that of god himself. With arms pointing to heaven and earth, the second écorché appears to anthropomorphize this ancient Hebrew symbol and may be a Humanist re-imagination of Old Testament imagery to demonstrate the famous Latin aphorism, nosce te ipsum, and the importance of anatomic dissection for the understanding of the human condition.

Keywords: Vesalius – Aleph – Ecorche – De humani corporis fabrica – Hebrew – Symbolism – Nosce te ipsum

European Journal of anatomy
ISSN 2340-311X (Online)