Albarello drug jar for Mesue's French Musked Lozenges of Aloes Wood, Sicily, 1601-1630

1601-1630 in Sicily

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Albarello vase, Italian, possibly from Deruta, C16 polychrome maiolica, poor coperta glaze, used for ? musk pears.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Albarello vase, polychrome maiolica with poor coperta glaze, used for Mesue's French Musked Lozenges of Aloes Wood, unsigned, Sicily, Italy, 1601-1630

The inscription on this jar translates from Latin as “Mesue’s French Musked Lozenges of Aloes Wood”. The preparation was made from aloe wood and two animal products, ambergris and musk, which are both difficult to find in large quantities. Pressed into lozenges, they were used to strengthen the brain and heart. All of the ingredients are very fragrant and so they also acted as a deodorant and breath freshener. The French part of the name derives from the preparation’s popularity in France. Mesue (777-857 CE) was the European name for Yuhanna Ibn Masawayh, a prominent Christian physician who wrote in Arabic. Ibn Masawayh worked at the Baghdad hospital and was personal physician to a number of Caliphs. ‘Meuse’ was also the pseudonym of a pharmaceutical writer.


Medical Ceramic-ware
Object Number:
drug jar
  • furnishing and equipment
  • container - receptacle
  • furnishing and equipment
  • container - receptacle
  • drug jar

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