Roman Terracotta Flask in the Form of Bacchus' Head - X.0080
Origin: Mediterranean
Circa: 1 st Century AD to 2 nd Century AD
Dimensions: 5.75" (14.6cm) high
Collection: Classical
Style: Roman
Medium: Terracotta


This terracotta flask has been molded into the shape of the head of a youthful Bacchus, the god of wine known to Greeks as Dionysus. At first he appears not unlike any other young man: he has a round face with small eyes, a fairly broad nose, slightly parted lips, and a rounded chin. However, it is the fillet he wears around his head and the wreath of ivy leaves and grape clusters that alerts us to his true identity. Bacchus, as the deity presiding over wine and merriment, was naturally one of the most popular gods in the Roman pantheon. The fact that he was chosen to decorate such a flask suggests that the vessel might have once held wine or perhaps some other potent distilled drink; although perfumes or oils are more traditional contents.

A short cylindrical neck with a collared rim with a small handle rise out of the god’s head. The head flask form was a remarkably popular innovation that is perhaps best represented by glass examples, which were probably influenced by terracotta predecessors not unlike this piece. Since the work itself is as valuable as the substances it once held inside, it is safe to assume that this flask was a prized possession of a member of the upper classes of wealthy merchants who could afford such luxuries. Today, this ancient vessel remains a treasured item, prized for its striking beauty and fascinating history. - (X.0080)



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