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What is this clay, bowl-like object?
June 6, 2014 3:28 PM   Subscribe

While visiting a friend the other day, he showed me a very strange clay bowl. The bowl came with the house, which he rents. The owner does not know/recall the purpose of the bowl, nor have any guests been able to produce a convincing answer. More details and a drawing follow.

The bowl is designed like this: it is the size of a standard cereal bowl (about 6" diameter), but with taller sides (about 4"). The bowl has a lid with a handle and a series of vents. At the bottom of the bowl is a hole, approximately 1/2" diameter. Surrounding the base of the bowl is a moat. Immediately in front of the hole in the bowl, the outer wall of the moat is pushed downwards to form a spout.

The bowl is of superb craftsmanship and nicely glazed, and has been signed by the artist on the bottom. However, the signature is abstract enough to not be entirely legible.

Neither of us were able to come up with a good solution to what the bowl would be purposed for. The bowl would be unsuitable for holding anything liquid, as it would simply pour out onto the table. One hypothesis resulting from the top vents and hole at the bottom would be something relating to burning, but inside of the bowl is free of any indicators of combustion. Or perhaps it is a thought experiment?

I did not remember to photograph it, but I remember it well enough to have composed a rudimentary drawing. Here.

Has anyone encountered such an object before? Perhaps there is an obvious use here that we are overlooking.
posted by cobro to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
My guesses are something involving potpourri or citronella.
posted by 4ster at 3:32 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]


Could it be used for evaporative cooling? Like a pot in pot refrigerator?
posted by Thing at 3:40 PM on June 6


That looks like a potpourri burner. My mom used to have one that looked like that, although the bottom portion had more room for a candle and there wasn't a hole at the bottom of the bowl.
posted by heurtebise at 3:50 PM on June 6


Grapefruit reamer? I'm stuck on the idea of stuff being put on top and useful liquid draining to the base.
posted by momus_window at 3:51 PM on June 6 [6 favorites]


One hypothesis resulting from the top vents and hole at the bottom would be something relating to burning, but inside of the bowl is free of any indicators of combustion.

Just because it looks like nothing has ever been burned in the bowl doesn't mean that's what it was designed for.

Maybe a potpourri or incense thing. It looks like the hole goes from the moat to the interior, fresh air for combustion would enter into the hole. There are some weird types of wood that people use as "natural" incense. Any liquid condensing on the inside of the bowl would run down to the spout.
posted by yohko at 4:36 PM on June 6


Juicer? For orange or lemon juice extraction? The juice collects in the moat. Here is a pic.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 5:24 PM on June 6


Ceramic yarn bowl?
posted by Cuke at 5:55 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]


Garlic roaster? (But that doesn't explain the spout on the moat.)
posted by Boogiechild at 6:51 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]


Could it be for something that is normally solid but can be heated into a liquid and poured? Wax, butter/fat, something like that?
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:53 PM on June 6


Maybe it's an incense burner? And the "spout" isn't a spout but is instead a notch in the edge of the moat so you can stick the incense in through the hole? (Or maybe it's not incense at all, but I wonder if the "spout" isn't really meant for pouring or draining but is just an access portal, as it were.)
posted by devinemissk at 6:58 PM on June 6


Could it be for holding a dish scrubber? The scrubby thing goes in the bowl, the vents in the lid help it dry out, and the hole/moat/spout are for excess water to drain.
posted by atropos at 9:29 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]


Toothbrush holder?
posted by jaguar at 12:25 AM on June 7


Cutlery drainer?
posted by jaguar at 12:30 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]


Going off of atropos's idea, here is a ceramic sponge holder that looks similar to what you describe (minus the lid.)
posted by fermion at 8:15 AM on June 7


That is almost certainly a juicer for citrus fruits. We have a virtually identical one where I work part time.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:00 AM on June 7


Sprouter? (maybe with a screen?)
posted by easilyamused at 6:39 PM on June 7


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