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Chamber pot, Netherlands, 1651-1780

Chamber pots were used in the home or hospitals at a time when most toilets were outside – or non-existent. In the 1700s, chamber pots were often emptied out of windows straight into the street, sometimes with the cry “gardy loo” (from the French gardez l’eau, or “watch for the water”). The blue and white design indicates that the chamber pot is probably from the Netherlands. The design shows country scenes, including a maid milking a cow.

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Glossary: hygiene

The science of health and how to maintain it. A condition or practice which promotes good health. The definition varies widely and differs across cultures.

Glossary: chamber pot

Bowl-shaped container with a handle, used as a urinal at night. Chamber pots remained in common use until the 1900s when inside water closets replaced them. They are still used in countries where indoor plumbing is rare.