Pair of pharmacy storage jars, Naples, Italy, 1756
These earthenware jars are illustrated with scenes from both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. The Old Testament scene is the Death of Absalom. Absalom, who rebelled against his father, King David, was suspended by his hair from an oak tree and impaled with a spear by Joab (Book of Samuel II 18: 9-15). The jar contained Scurvy grass water, which was used for opening up obstructions in the body. It was also used for combating scurvy, a vitamin C deficiency that causes the gums to bleed and sores to open up on the face. The New Testament scene depicted on the second jar shows St Peter’s escape from prison after being released by an angel of the Lord while the Roman guards slept. Peter had been arrested for being a Christian (Acts 12: 5-9). The jar contained Buckthorn Water, which was used to purge the body but left the patient with a hard-to-quench thirst.
Related Themes and Topics
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Glossary: storage vase
The preparation and medicinal dispensing of drugs.
Pottery made of clay which is fired at a relatively low temperature. Earthenware is often semi-porous, meaning some liquid or air can pass through it. This can be altered by treating the pottery with a glaze.
Disease caused by a lack of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which is contained in fresh fruit and vegetables. Symptoms include weakness, painful joints, and bleeding gums.