Lavabo

Lavabo

1400s

Brass

Diameter: 23.8 cm (9 3/8 in.); Overall: 36.9 x 46.4 cm (14 1/2 x 18 1/4 in.)

Norman O. Stone and Ella A. Stone Memorial Fund 1965.22

Description

In the Middle Ages a variety of vessels were used for hand washing. This brass container, called a lavabo, was designed to hold a large quantity of water and may have functioned in either a domestic or a liturgical setting. Its large capacity and relatively simple decoration suggests it served a communal function, either in a private home or perhaps in a monastery where it would have served as a hand-washing station near the refectory. In private homes, lavabos of similar design were usually hung from a chain or a trammel hook over or near the fire in the kitchen. The ring inserted at the top of the handle would have allowed for the rotation of the vessel while it was suspended, facilitating access to the spouts for water. Seen in conjunction with other vessels displayed nearby, this object illustrates the variety of hand-washing vessels used by medieval men and women.

See also
Collection: 
MED - Gothic
Department: 
Medieval Art
Type of artwork: 
Metalwork
Medium: 
Brass

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