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Goa stone with silver gilt case, Europe, 1801-1900

Goa stones are named after their place of origin, Goa, in India. They are artificially manufactured versions of bezoar stones found in animal stomachs. Goa stones are made from a combination of clay, silt, shells, resin and musk and are typically spherical in shape like this one. Scrapings from Goa stones mixed with water were drunk as a remedy for numerous ailments, including plague. They were also placed in drinks to counteract suspected poisoning. They were highly valued and could change hands for enormous prices. This stone has a case made from gold and silver threads interwoven to produce a highly ornate pattern.

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Glossary: goa stone

A popular 17th century remedy for various fever-like diseases, a goa stone consisting of various drugs made up in the form of a hard ball, from which a portion was scraped as required.

Glossary: pharmacy

The preparation and medicinal dispensing of drugs.

Glossary: Goa

The capital of the colonial Portuguese empire in Asia and East Africa which gained its independence from the Portuguese in 1961.