Title: Woo Kinshing
Secondary Title: Man with large tumor on chest
Description: By Lam Qua, oil on canvas, 24 x 18 inches,1838.
Tumor: large tumor
Case Number: 5111
Year: 1838
Modern Suggestion: Neurofibroma? According to the doctors consulted by the Gordon Museum
Credit: Courtesy of the Gordon Museum.
Dr. Peter Parker's Case History
be convulsed, and his pulse was scarcely perceptible. Stimulants, brandy and spirits of ammonia, were administered by assistants and the operation continued. He soon revived and the tumor was immediately laid upon the floor, being just sixteen minutes fromt he commencement, and not a ligature was required....It weighed 15 pounds avoirdupois, and it was estimated by the best judges present that there was a loss of about two pounds of blood....The first ten days he lost a good deal of flesh, but since then the scale has turned in his favor. In twenty days all below the clavicle was firmly healed, and the large cavity above was most rapidly filling up with granulations [a normal stage in the healing process, esp. of ulcers]. No fever supervened upon the operation. On the 19th of June the old gentleman was discharged in perfect health, forming a great contrast with his former emaciated appearance."
Additional Commentary
Because the shape and size of Woo Kinshing's tumor resembles a familiar object, a cello or "tenor viol" as Parker calls it, Lam Qua's image raises another issue of pathological representation latent in many images. What happens to the status of the tumor when it resembles an ordinary non-pathological object? In Woo Kinshang's case, the suggestion of the cello is reinforced by the coincidence of it being positioned more or less where a cellist might play it and the tumor becomes a prop. In fact, Woo Kinshing would rest on it like a matress. The indirection or redirection of the pathological gaze toward some other object frequently produces a ludicrous effect, and a kind of "tumor humor" emerges. Referring to the tumor as the patient's "old companion" and calling Woo Kinshing at several points "the old gentleman" (though he was only 49), Parker's case history is more jocular than most of his accounts, especially given how difficult the surgery proved to be.

The Mysteries of Lam Qua: Medical Portraiture in China 1836 - 1855
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