The word aquamanile comes from the combined Latin words meaning “water” and “hands.” Commonly shaped like stylized animals, the intended purpose of these objects was as a pouring vessel for washing. Early examples were liturgical receptacles for ritual hand-washing before Catholic Mass, but they soon found favor in wealthy private households, where they were used for cleansing before and during a meal. The Museum’s lion aquamanile was filled through a hinged opening in the head. Originally a spigot protruded from the chest for drawing the water. A sinuous dragon combines with the lion’s S-curved tail to make a double handle for easier lifting of the heavy copper vessel.