The Aquamanile (plural aquamanilia or simply aquamaniles; from lat. “aqua” – water and lat. “manus” – hand) – is a washstand, a ewer or jug-type vessel for washing hands in the form of an animal or human, sometimes several figures. Most often, Aquamanile is made of copper alloys (brass and bronze), but there are also silver and ceramics (few specimens survived).
In Byzantium and during the Middle Ages, this form of a jug for washing hands was used in religious rituals.The dominant image was lions, horses in a group with a rider, winged creatures, including griffins, dragons, birds. A small number represents a group of anthropomorphic aquamaniles, imitating the shape of the head, bust, and sometimes a full human figure.
For the majority of people, Aquamaniles were very expensive and everyone used ordinary washstands in the form of a jug and a special “Laver” (Lavabo; Lavabokessel) for washing their hands on their own.