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Bleeding bowl, Europe, 1701-1900

Bleeding bowls were used to collect blood during bloodletting – a practice once carried out to treat a wide range of diseases and medical conditions. This example is made from silver although they can be made from earthenware and other metals. The initials “L A L” are engraved on the handle and may indicate a maker or the owner. Unlike some bleeding bowls there are no markings on the internal surface to help measure the amount of blood being removed.

Object number:

A600117

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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.