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Earthenware bleeding bowl, England, 1701-1900

Bleeding bowls were used during bloodletting – a practice once carried out to treat a wide range of diseases and medical conditions. They were used to catch the blood from an opened vein. This example has a scale marked in fluid ounces inside the bowl to measure how much blood had been let out of the patient.

Object number:

A626460

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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: earthenware

Pottery made of clay which is fired at a relatively low temperature. Earthenware is often semi-porous, meaning some liquid or air can pass through it. This can be altered by treating the pottery with a glaze.

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.