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DK1 Roman 1st century lamp: erotic figure playing lyre

 
 
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Pottery lamp with concave discus depicting ithyphallic figure with exaggerated phallus, squatting and playing lyre. Rounded nozzle flanked by volutes. Defined circular base.
Buff clay with red-brown slip
L. 9.5 cm
Light surface wear.

Notes:
Loeschcke Type IV.
See similar lamp in Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Comments:
Figures with an exaggerated phallus (ithyphallic) were highly popular in the Roman world. They were regarded as apotropaic symbols that could ward off evil influences or bad luck. The figure here, a grotesque, is rather charmingly seated on drapery and playing a lyre.

The Romans were fond of combining the image with music - sometimes as part of a tintinnabulum - and a Roman figure in the Brooklyn Museum plays a harp using his phallus as a plectrum (though that may have been somewhat painful!).


Provenance:
Ex Helios Gallery; private German collection (Hamburg); previously earlier 20th-century collection.


Price: 345 GBP

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