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Tin glazed earthenware bowl, depicting a parturition scene, Italy, 1551-1600

Scenes of childbirth and nursing newborns were common in Renaissance Italy. Parturition or birthing sets served foods to pregnant women during pregnancy or after childbirth. Parturition scenes eased the fears of expectant mothers by depicting positive birthing images. These sets usually consisted of several items that would fit together when not in use. This tin glazed earthenware bowl is thought to be from Urbino in Italy and dates from 1551-1599. It depicts a woman in labour; she is seated with her arms gesturing upwards surrounded by four women in Renaissance dress.

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Glossary: bowl

A round deep basin used for food or liquid

Glossary: obstetrics

A branch of medicine dealing with the care of women. This care occurs during pregnancy, childbirth, and the period of recovery from childbirth.