Bowl with Engraved Figures of Vices

Bowl with Engraved Figures of Vices


Bronze: spun, hammered, chased, and punched

Overall: 6.1 x 29 cm (2 3/8 x 11 7/16 in.)

Weight: 686 g (1.51 lbs.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1987.61


At the center of this bowl stands a female figure identified as SUPER[BI]A (pride). Represented along the curvature are four more bust-length figures: [I]DOLATRIA (idolatry), INVIDIA (envy), IRA (anger), and LUXURIA (self-indulgence). Bowls of this type were likely produced in medieval Germany and widely traded throughout northern Europe. Because of the moralistic symbolism employed in their iconographic programs, it has been suggested that such bowls were used in monasteries for hand washing during penitential activities. More recently, it has been suggested that they served as teaching aids for rhetorical instruction in medieval classrooms.

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