Earthenware drug jar, Middle East, before 1932
This Islamic drug jar is a typical size, shape and design. Ceramics like this are very difficult to date because the style has changed little over time. The illustration shows two women kneeling in a garden and gathering plants, presumably to use in medical preparations, while a nightingale looks on. Pestles and mortars used to grind up ingredients for drugs and treatments can also be seen. The jar’s contents would have been protected using an age-old technique – a parchment or vellum cover tied off with string. This jar was purchased in Cairo, Egypt, in 1932 by Captain Johnston-Saint, one of Henry Wellcome’s agents who collected on his behalf.
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Glossary: drug jar
A (usually earthenware) container designed to hold apothecaries' ointments and dry drugs.