Designed to be medicinal pottery jars that held ointments and dry drugs at apothecaries, these 19th century Spanish albarelli are quite versatile items.
Albarelli in their original guise were manufactured in bamboo or wood and always about 7 inches tall. These jars needed to be easy to use so they were cylindrical in shape, with a tapered waist and a large mouth. The mouths were covered in bleached white parchment and secured with a cord. The contents of the jar would then be inscribed on the paper. Typically used in Spain and the Near East, decorations featured Moorish and Islamic themes associated with those regions.
In the 15th century, during the Renaissance, Spanish traders introduced these jars to Italy. It was at this point that albarelli began to be produced using tin-glazed earthenware, often called majolica. Variations in height also began to appear during the Renaissance and decorations became more important as albarelli were known to represent status and wealth. Jars were hand painted and the contents of the jar were now painted directly on the earthenware.
Our albarelli have been painted in a white background with blue shells, scrolls and geometric patterns. One of the jars has been marked as “G. Oliban”, while the other as “R. Mey”. G. Oliban is an abbreviation of Gum Olibanum, otherwise known as frankincense, which is a scented resin used in perfumes and incense. R. Mey is an abbreviation of Rubiaceae Meyna, which is a family of flowering plants that has a multitude of uses, including providing coffee beans, red and yellow dyes and the extract quinine, which was used to treat malaria.
These colorful jars can be used for dried flowers or for a variety of items or simply as accessories on their own.
CONDITION: Fleabites on both jars. The “R. Mey” jar has been repaired at some point and has some craquelure near the mouth. Wear commensurate to age and use.