Cupping scarifier with thirteen lancets, European, 17th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Cupping aimed to draw poisonous substances from the body and was popular from Roman times until the late 19th century. The glas cup was heated and presed on the skin. As the oxygen in the cup was used up a partial vacuum was created powerfully sucking the cup to the body. Dry cupping was performed on unbroken skin creating blisters. Wet cupping covered a wound or deliberate incision, and drew out blood, pus and other fluids. A scarificator such as this was a metal box containing hidden blades, which sprang out when a lever was presed. The blades could be used to make cuts in the skin surface before the cupping glas was applied.