The Four Humors

A photograph of four girls wearing different colours.

Artist: Mary-AnneBulatao
Year: pre-2010
Medium: Photograph
Artist Statement: The photograph is from artist’s blog: Dating from the fourth century BC, Greek medicine had developed a comprehensive holistic explanatory scheme for health and sickness in which madness was included: 1) RED BLOOD is the source of vitality and makes the flesh hot and went. Air is its element being warm, moist, and animated. It is ‘sanguine’ having a lively temperament, energetic, and robust. 2) CHOLER/YELLOW BILE is the gastric juice, indispensable for digestion and makes flesh hot and dry. Fire is its element being warm and dry. The individual is acrimonious, marked by an acid tongue. 3) PALE PHLEGM is a broad category comprehending all colourless secretions – a lubricant and coolant. It makes flesh cold and wet having water as its element. The individual is known to giving off black looks. 4) BLACK BILE is almost never found pure and is responsible for darkening other fluids, as when blood, skin, or stools turn blackish. It gives flesh cold and dry sensations. A surplus of black bile resulted in a lowness or depression.