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Stone mortar and pestle, India, 1750-1850

Mortars and pestles are used in almost every medical tradition to prepare and grind herbs and plants for treatments. They have long been amongst the key tools of the Indian medical tradition called Ayurveda. However, the pestle and mortar have been largely replaced by modern machinery now such medicines are mass produced.

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Glossary: mortar

Cup-shaped vessel in which drugs or herbal mixtures are pounded with a pestle.

Glossary: pestle

An elongated piece of hard material usually made of stone. A pestle is used for grinding pigments, herbs, spices or other materials in a mortar.

Glossary: Ayurveda

An Indian medical tradition. Literally translated it means ‘Life Science’ and promotes mental and physical health through balancing biological elements. Ayurveda focuses on exercise, massage, yoga and meditation.