Definition of aquamanile in English:



  • A water container or ewer, typically in the form of a mammal or bird, used in medieval times.

    • ‘For instance, a small group of metal artifacts from the time of the Abbasid caliphate in Iran includes some unique bronze vessels, including an aquamanile in the form of an eagle, regarded as the earliest precisely dated bronze object from the Islamic period.’
    • ‘Of prime importance in the realm of religious objects are gold and enamel works and aquamaniles made of bronze.’
    • ‘Indispensable throughout medieval Europe, aquamaniles were often used to pour water over the hands of a diner at a noble table, while an attendant would hold a basin and present a towel for him to dry his hands.’
    • ‘This striking piece of Scarborough Ware is technically known as a zoomorphic aquamanile - an animal shaped water vessel, in this case a ram - the applied pellets of clay represent wool.’
    • ‘Hollow wares constitute a very large category, ranging from the ewers, aquamaniles and jugs of the late-medieval period to lidded and open tankards, wine-cups, christening cups and goblets.’
    • ‘Given its unwieldy weight and awkward small spout and handle, this aquamanile was probably used more for display than for washing hands, all the better to allow admiring viewers to follow the drama enacted.’
    • ‘More unusual vessels were produced, for example lamps, chafing dishes, shallow pans and aquamaniles.’
    • ‘One of the earliest items in the hoard is the aquamanile, dating from the late 13th to early 14th-century.’
    • ‘Basically, the aquamanile is a horizontal jug used to wash hands.’
    • ‘The top of Phyllis’ head has an opening to fill the aquamanile with water and the water runs out through the tap.’
    • ‘International discoveries of complete ceramic aquamaniles are rare, because they are delicate and easily damaged.’
    • ‘Most of the aquamaniles in the National Museum were used in churches, but these two were used at banquets in prosperous homes.’
    • ‘Created after oriental models, aquamaniles were frequently of a profane character.’
    • ‘An aquamanile comes with a bowl or a basin to collect the water.’
    • ‘The Medieval section includes the famous Aby crucifix, golden altars, bejewelled illustrated manuscripts, triptychs, granite fonts, chalices, ivory and aquamaniles.’
    • ‘The exact provenance of the aquamanile is difficult to establish, but a liturgic use seems possible.’
    • ‘On display will be small bronze sculptures, liturgical implements, artifacts in gold, glass cabinets, altar paintings, water containers known as aquamaniles and statues.’
    • ‘The aquamanile eventually evolved for secular use during the renaissance and these items found their way onto the dinner tables of the rich.’
    • ‘We suppose that this aquamanile had an exclusively secular purpose because it is similar to the sign of the zodiac used in medieval woodcuts.’


Late 19th century: from late Latin, from Latin aquaemanalis, literally ‘ewer of water’.