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Funerary vases or urns hold ashes after a cremation. They are found worldwide and are still used. The owner of this tall pottery vase may have been wealthy or important. It is elaborately decorated with a circle of robed figures and assorted birds, dragons and animals. The vase was acquired by the Wellcome collections in 1930 through the auction house Sotheby’s.

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Glossary: cremation

The deliberate burning of a dead body at high temperatures to reduce it to ashes and fragments. These may be collected, containerised and then buried.

Glossary: mourning

Trial term S&H

Glossary: sepulchral vase

Piece of sepulchral sculpture in the form of a vase form part of a tomb