Aquamanile in the Form of a Ram

Date: ca. 1250–1350

Geography: Made in Scarborough, England

Culture: British

Medium: Earthenware, green glaze

Dimensions: Overall: 9 7/16 x 11 1/2 x 5 1/4 in. (23.9 x 29.2 x 13.3 cm)

Classification: Ceramics

Credit Line: The Cloisters Collection, 2007

Accession Number: 2007.142


Pottery aquamanilia like this one in the form of a ram were inspired by the more prestigious metal aquamanilia. Due to the fragility of earthenware, though, they are significantly rarer. The ram is a work of considerable charm, and although it has lost its horns and much of its dark green glaze, it is among the finest and most intact pottery examples to survive from the Middle Ages. The main body of the vessel was skillfully thrown on a potter's wheel before the addition of the feet, handle, and head. A funnel-shaped opening that served to fill the vessel with water projects vertically from the shoulders and the opening in the mouth served as a spout. The work can be dated to about 1300 (confirmed by thermoluminescence analysis) and stylistic comparisons with excavated earthenware vessels suggest that it was made in the prolific kilns of Scarborough on the east coast of England.