Smithsonian museums continue to be closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Read a message from our director, and check our website and social media for updates.



Usage conditions apply
This blue and white albarello drug jar depicts two lions, each standing on one hind leg. They flank a cartouche, and support a crown in their front paws. The interior of the cartouche has a cross with the letter P at left, and on the right, the letter A. An escroll at the shoulder of the container is marked, "VN DIFENSIVO". The jar is very similar in style to the ones seen in objects 1991.0664.0669–.0673, but has an unglazed bottom. The jar would have contained Unguentum Defensivum, or defensive ointment. The ointment was composed of Dragon’s blood (red resin from several different types of trees) Armenian bole, rose oil, vinegar, and wax. The ointment was used to treat skin lesions and wounds.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
18th century
place made
Physical Description
ceramic (overall material)
overall: 22.5 cm x 15 cm; 8 27/32 in x 5 29/32 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
collector/donor number
SAP 593
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of American Pharmaceutical Association and Bristol-Myers Squibb Company
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Health & Medicine
European Apothecary
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.

Note: Comment submission on our collection pages is temporarily unavailable. Please check back soon!

If you have a question or require a personal response, please visit our FAQ or contact page.