Prayer for Help

View of a bright pink graphic within a desk top case on the first floor of the Pitt Rivers Museum

A Prayer for Help

Nothing Without Us: Experiences of Disability Trail at the Pitt Rivers Museum

Writing and Communication Display, Case 107A, Ground Floor


A votive offering is made as a request for a cure or as thanks for a recovery. They capture stories of pain and suffering as experienced by individual people.As sensations of pain and suffering are quite often associated with disability, what can perspectives of disability lend to our understanding of votive objects?

Breast Case Scenario

two small clay domes representing breasts

Votive offerings in the form of a woman's breast. Terracotta pottery. Roman. Donated to the Pitt Rivers Museum in 1896. PRM 1896.15.4 and PRM 1896.15.21


According to the Byzantine monk John Moschus in the 6th century AD, a husband brought his wife to a holy man, hoping she would be cured of breast cancer. Female breast cancer disabled a woman in more ways than one: if a mother, she could not feed her children; if a wet nurse, her job was in peril. In addition to disfigurement, a woman who lost her breasts to cancer would be physically and economically disabled.

Brenda L. I., PhD & HoH (Hard of Hearing)


View the collections entry for the votives with zoomable image.

Ground Floor Plan of Pitt Rivers Museum showing display locations and pink spot highlighting trail stop

Plan of the museum's ground floor showing this trail location in the right (south side) outer aisle on the main court, in a desktop display case, on the court side, about halfway down the aisle.

This co-produced gallery trail was developed in partnership with the Curating for Change project. Supported by Accentuate and Screen South, the project provides opportunities for D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people to pursue a curatorial career in museums.

Find out more about Curating for Change


Curating for Change Logo







Accentuate logo in pink
Screen South Logo
National Lottery Heritage Fund Logo
art fund logo


Arts Council England Logo