This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience. By clicking or navigating the site you agree to allow our collection of information through cookies. More info

Posted on Friday August 31, 2018

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

Figures throughout history that symbolise the destruction of illness and power of healing

main image
Statue of the goddess Hygeia
Science Museum, London
100 BCE - 100 CE
Wellcome Collection
United Kingdom

This collection of historical statues depicts gods, goddesses and saints of health as well as commoners with medical conditions. The statues originate from across the world and date back from 1000 BC to the 20th century.

In ancient Egypt, it was believed that the goddess Tawaret gave birth to the world. She was a protector of pregnant women and called upon during childbirth. For the Yoruba people of West Africa, a statue representation of the Earth goddess and ancestral mother figure Odudua has been a symbol of fertility and helps ensure safe delivery.

The daughter of Greco-Roman god of medicine Asclepius, Hygeia, was the goddess of good health and cleanliness. Her name is where the word ‘hygiene” derives from. In India, a wooden figure from the Nicobar would be set outside a sick person’s home to drive away bad spirits believed to cause illnesses.

Explore these and more statues from various backgrounds in this rich collection.