Amulet Trail: Beaker to detect poison, China

1901.71.1PRM 1901.71.1

This beaker is made from rhinoceros horn and carved with images of animals, birds and trees. It is said to be able to magically detect poisoned drinks by making them effervesce.

It was collected by Professor Henry Nottidge Moseley during his time aboard HMS Challenger on her voyage around the globe in 1872–1876, a voyage famous for developing the science of oceanography and discovering life on the deep sea bed. Moseley was a naturalist and one of five scientists on board whose job it was to study and record the flora, fauna and places they came across.

HMS Challenger

Henry Nottidge MoseleyAfter the voyage Moseley returned to academia. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and was appointed Professor of Human and Comparative Anatomy at Oxford. He worked tirelessly at reviving the natural science schools within the University and was crucial in securing the Pitt-Rivers anthropological collection, which he then took on the task of housing and organizing in the 1880s until his health failed.

LISTEN to an excerpt from a letter written by Moseley to his friend A.W. Franks at the British Museum in 1881, discussing the possibility of Pitt-Rivers collection coming to Oxford.

Artisans of Memory

Behind the scenes of an amulets project

This series of short films follows the progress and practices of those connected with the Small Blessings project as they unravel the stories surrounding these curious objects.

The full series of films may be viewed here.


Amulets Competition

The competition is now closed and a winner has been announced. Find out more here.

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