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Two metal buttons showing an enema treatment, Germany, 1701-1900

The metal button on the left shows a physician administering an enema. An enema introduces liquids such as medications or purgatives into the body via the rectum – a once very common medical procedure. This enema was clearly aimed at flushing out the body as the button on the right shows the patient on a chamber pot watched by the physician. Not much is known about why the buttons were made or who might have worn them.

Object number:

A63621

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Glossary:

Glossary: button

Disks, balls, or devices of other shape having holes or a shank by which they are sewn or secured to an article and that are used as fasteners by passing through a buttonhole or loop or a trimming.

Glossary: enema

A liquid injected into the anus. Enemas can be carried out for medical reasons, as a treatment for constipation, or as a way to give drugs.

Glossary: chamber pot

Bowl-shaped container with a handle, used as a urinal at night. Chamber pots remained in common use until the 1900s when inside water closets replaced them. They are still used in countries where indoor plumbing is rare.