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Bleeding bowl, England, 1671-1730

Bleeding bowls were used to collect blood during bloodletting – a practice once carried out to treat a wide range of diseases and medical conditions. Bloodletting was used as a cure for many fevers, diseases which were believed to be caused by a build up of blood. This bowl is made from pottery and has a floral design on the base. It has a handle for ease of use and although there are no accurate markings to indicate the volume of blood being taken, the circular design of patterns on the inside surface may have helped.

Object number:

A43164

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Glossary:

Glossary: bloodletting

Puncturing a vein in order to withdraw blood. A popular medical practice for over two thousand years. Bloodletting often involved withdrawing large quantities of blood in the belief that this would cure or prevent many illnesses and diseases. The practice has been abandoned for all but a few very specific conditions.

Glossary: bleeding bowl

A shallow bowl four to six inches in diameter, with one flat handle which is usually flush with the rim. Used by barber-surgeons in the 1600s and 1700s when bleeding a patient.

Glossary: choler

Another word for yellow bile, one of the four humours - the fluids of the body whose balance was believed to be essential to well-being.