First Illustrations of Female "Neurosurgeons" in the Fifteenth Century by Serefeddin Sabuncuoglu

Neurocirugia (Astur). 2006 Apr;17(2):162-5. doi: 10.1016/s1130-1473(06)70362-1.


Males have dominated medicine for many centuries. Females could not appear in the medical history equally till the end of the 18th century; although they always have been in medicine as healers. It is worth mentioning that first illustrations indicating female surgeons were found in the book written in Turkish by Serefeddin Sabuncuoglu in the 15th century; while Europe was newly waking up from its dark ages and Middle East was under the influence of strict rules of Arabic and Islamic culture. Serefeddin Sabuncuoglu (1385-1470) was the author of the first illustrated surgical textbook Cerrahiyyetu'l-Haniyye (Imperial surgery) in Turkish Literature. Inside miniatures drawn by Serefeddin Sabuncuoglu indicated that the female surgeons, acknowledged "Tabibe", had been allowed to practice alone in Anatolia. Tabibes are illustrated in the miniatures practicing on the management of dead foetus with foetal hydrocephalus and macrocephalus which were the first clues by means of Turkish women in Neurosurgery.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Books, Illustrated
  • Female
  • History, 15th Century
  • History, Medieval
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Illustration*
  • Neurosurgery*
  • Physicians*
  • Textbooks as Topic
  • Turkey