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Pharmacy storage jar for Blessed Thistle Water, Italy, 1702

The jar was used to store Blessed Thistle Water – a preparation made from distilling thistles and herbs. The water was drunk and believed to purge thick and slimy humours from the body. Taken in large doses the water caused sweating. The illustration on this large earthenware storage jar shows the story of St Martin (d. 397 CE) and his conversion to Christianity. When he gave a beggar his cloak he saw a vision of Christ.

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Glossary: storage jar

A jar used to store objects or substances.

Glossary: pharmacy

The preparation and medicinal dispensing of drugs.

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.