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Aquamanile in the form of a lion

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unknown1200Northern Germany (Lübeck?)bronzeH 20 cm

The shape of this ewer is unique. The seated lion tramples down two dragons darting at his breast, while the third bites his mane. Instead of the usual hinged lid the lion has a hole at the ear opening to fill the vessel with water. When poured, the water flows through the nostrils. The dragon on its back serves as a handle. Aquamaniles in the shape of animals, mythical creatures and humans, constitute a highlight of the medieval bronze works. Inspired by oriental examples, these vessels were produced in greater numbers from the 12th century on, especially in centres of bronze casting such as Lower Saxony and the Rhine-Meuse-Region. They were used for washing hands at meals or for liturgic acts. As tableware, they are the first important testimonies of the post-Antique table culture in Europe.