Silver-plated divination bowl, Egypt, 1801-1900
Divination was used in medicine to try to determine the cause of an illness and to give some indication as to suitable treatments. This divination bowl may have been used by interpreting the reflection of light on its sides. Other methods include casting stones or studying the entrails of a sacrificed animal and interpreting the patterns made. The engraving on the silver-plated copper bowl shows entwined snakes, a running dog and also has some Arabic text. Although its exact origin is unknown, it is thought that the bowl was made in Egypt. It is believed that at some point it may have been used as an ashtray as there is staining on the surface.
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Glossary: divination bowl
The practice of seeking knowledge of the future through the interpretation of omens or other supernatural means.