Roman North-African Redware Head Oinophoros

£ 3,250.00

A stunning Ancient Roman red slipware jug from North Africa featuring an ovoid body moulded into an androgynous head. The neck of the figure acts as the foot and the base of the vessel. The facial features are highly stylised including the large slightly bulging, almond shaped eyes, straight nose and a small mouth. Herringbone pattern decorates the straight thick eyebrows and eyelids. Soft locks of hair pinned with grape vines frame the face in the front, while in the back the hair is styled close to the head possibly representing a braided style or a hairnet. A stylised vine wreath is represented around the edge of the forehead. Most likely she represents a maenad, a female follower of Dionysus/Bacchus. The sides of the vessel taper in towards the cylindrical neck leading to a thick, oval rim decorated by a horizontal ridge. A handle has been attached at the back from the neck of the jug to the shoulder. The neck of the jug was stamped with the maker’s mark; it reads DEOGRA[TIS?]/ΛS.

Date: Circa 3rd - 4th century AD
Provenance: Cambridgeshire, UK, private collection, 1990s.
Condition: Excellent condition. Some discolouration to the surface of the jug.
Product Code: RES-221
Category: Tags: , , ,

Wares of this type are usually referred to as African Red Slipware, and they were specific to the African province of the Roman Empire. Most pottery workshops are known from modern Tunisia and Algeria, and they were active from the 1st century until the 7th century AD. African Red Slipware is identified as the final development of terra sigillata, from the Latin, meaning ‘sealed earth’. Terra sigillata was a form of Roman red slipware pottery, which was developed around the mid-1st century BC, both for domestic use and export. Vessels of this type were typical of later North African workships, who began production from the mid 3rd century AD. The vibrancy of the red clay helps to distinguish this later manufacturing date, with earlier vessels produced from a light coloured clay. From the material culture found, vessels were made across a network of workshops, from the same moulds and were then stamped with varying maker’s mark. This suggests a more prolific main mould workshop which then distributed to small workshops within its network. Oinophoroi of this type, whether they depict a maenad of satyr were closely associated with the cult of Bacchus and were used in an everyday function at symposia or for washing. And whilst the material culture has been mostly been found as part of the burial cache, their use as a ritual vessel was secondary to their everyday function.

To discover more about Terra Sigillata, please visit our relevant blog post: Terra Sigillata, Clay Baring Little Images.

Weight 656.5 g
Dimensions W 11 x H 21.5 cm
Greek Mythology





North Africa

Reference: For a similar item,Princeton University Art Museum, item y1988-44

You may also like…