Skull Vinaigrette

A vinaigrette is a small receptacle to contain scented vinegar used by ladies to ward off faintness. The earliest-known examples in separate form dates from 1492. Such pieces were popular in the mid 18th century.

Image from Science Museum

“Like pomanders, vinaigrettes could be used as a vessel to hold strong smelling substances to be sniffed should the user be passing through a particularly smelly area. At a time when miasma theories of disease – the idea that disease was carried by foul air – were dominant, carrying a vinaigrette was considered a protective measure. Vapours from a vinegar-soaked sponge in the bottom were inhaled through the small holes in the top of the ‘acorn’. If a person felt faint they could also sniff their vinaigrette and the sharp vinegar smell might shock their body into action. The other side of the vinaigrette shows a face and could act as a memento mori – a reminder of death. The skull was probably hung from a piece of cord or necklace and carried at all times.” (reblogged from sutured-infection )

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