Samson and Lion Aquamanile

Unknownlate 13th century - early 14th century

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Boston, MA, United States

Aquamaniles are vessels to hold the water used for washing hands. First used by priests during religious ceremonies, aquamaniles later appeared on the table in monasteries and noble households. Produced in large numbers between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries, aquamaniles took many forms, including knights on horseback, dragons, and lions. This rare narrative example represents the Old Testament story of Samson wrestling a lion. Christians interpreted this event as a prefiguration of Christ's conquest of the Devil.


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