George Stimpson

His life and works

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What are eyestones?

Eyestones are various small, smooth objects that were commonly used by the "medicine women" of former generations to remove cinders, dust particles and other foreign substances from the eye. One of the favorite objects for this purpose was the operculum of a small marine shell. This is merely a small lens-shaped piece of calcareous shell that was inserted under the lid of the eye, usually in the inner corner. The eyestone generally works its way across the eye and out of the outer corner, often carrying the foreign matter in the eye with it. Golden ointment is the name given to any kind of eye salve. It was suggested by an ancient belief that rubbing the eyes with a gold ring would cure them of various disorders. Ointment, now signifying an external remedy consisting of a fatty substance in which medicine has been incorporated, is derived through Old French from [page 33] Latin unguo, "smear." Unction and anoint are indirectly from the same source. To throw dust in one's eyes, meaning to mislead, was Moslem practice of tossing dust in the air to "confound the true faith."