Pharmacy leech jar, marbled and gilt earthenware, perhaps Staffordshire, English, 1830-1870
Leeches were used in bloodletting – a practice once carried out to treat a wide range of diseases and medical conditions. This jar was used to hold leeches which would have been on sale to medical practitioners. They are a type of worm with suckers at both ends of the body although only the frontal sucker, which has teeth, is used to feed. Once attached to a living body, they feed on blood. They can live for quite a while between meals, so the lid has holes in the top to allow air into the jar.
Leeches were such a popular treatment that by 1830 their demand outstripped the supply. Leeches are again being used today following plastic and reconstructive surgery as they help restore blood flow and circulation.
- Medical Ceramic-ware
- Object Number:
- leech jar
- furnishing and equipment
- container - receptacle
- Loan: Wellcome Trust
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