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Albarello drug jar for Golden Ointment, Italy, 1571-1630

On the right, the illustrated scene on the earthenware jar shows an event from the New Testament of the Bible. Titled ‘La Samartina’, it tells the story of a woman from Samaria drawing water from the well down which Joseph (the one with the famous coat) had been cast by his brothers. Jesus is shown asking for a drink. The other inscription gives the name of the jar’s contents, Ungentum Aureum (“Golden Ointment”), which was applied to the skin to stop bleeding. The jar was bequeathed by British laryngologist Sir St Clair Thomson (1856-1943) to the Royal College of Surgeons in London before being donated to the Wellcome collections. It is shown here with a similar biblically illustrated jar (A633767).

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Glossary: unguent

No description.

Glossary: drug jar

A (usually earthenware) container designed to hold apothecaries' ointments and dry drugs.

Glossary: pharmacy

The preparation and medicinal dispensing of drugs.

Glossary: earthenware

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.