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First Colored Illustration and Detailed Description of Hermaphroditism by a Turkish Surgeon, Serefeddin Sabuncuoğlu, in the 15th Century

Dinc, Gulten PhD*; Yildirim, Ibrahim MD

doi: 10.1097/SAP.0b013e3180385aee
Original Article

Cerrahiyyetü’l-Haniyye (Imperial Surgery), written by the surgeon Serefeddin Sabuncuoğlu in the 15th century, is the first illustrated surgical book in Turkish-Islamic literature containing human figures. Sabuncuoğlu had begun a new era by demonstrating for the first time the application of many surgical methods on human beings, with illustrations in the style of miniatures in his handwritten work. This was a first in medical history, and, owing to this property, Sabuncuoğlu’s book was one of the most important original works of that period.

In this study in which we aim to examine Sabuncuoğlu’s surgical book, in particular with regard to the disease of hermaphroditism, we first demonstrated the historical development of the subject through general sources. From sources concerning Sabuncuoğlu, we gathered information on his life and works. Then, examining the information on hermaphroditism in Sabuncuoğlu’s work, we discussed this information in light of our current knowledge.

The earliest 15th-century Turkish-Islamic surgical book portrays an illustrated demonstration of hermaphroditism.

From the *Cerrahpasa Faculty of Medicine, Department of Medical History and Ethics, Istanbul University, Istanbul, Turkey; and †Department of Plastic Surgery, Cerrahpasa Faculty of Medicine, Istanbul University, Istanbul, Turkey.

Reprints: Gulten Dinc, PhD, IU Cerrahpasa Tip Fakültesi, Tip Tarihi ve Deontoloji Anabilim Dali, 34098, Istanbul, Turkey. E-mail:

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.