Roman terracotta oil lamp with a pierced handle and long, rounded volute nozzle. The lamp features straight shoulders with two concentric circles surrounding the concave discus. Within this discus is the moulded figure of a peacock, with open tailfeathers. The bird is depicted frontally, with its head and crest turned to the left. It stands on thin branch, the wood clasped between its talons. The nozzle features a large burn hole and two single volutes. This lamp can be categorised as Loeschcke V; Bailey C group. The base is marked by a single, circular groove, encircling a faded maker’s mark. The first letter possibly an O, thus possibly OCTAVI.
Date: Circa 1st - 2nd Century AD Provenance: Ex London gallery 1980s. From the collection of a deceased Lancashire gentleman. Condition: Excellent. Some wear to the makers mark on the reverse.
The combination of a peacock and branch was a common motif and appeared frequently in Roman art. Peacocks were an exotic bird, first introduced into the Classical world by Alexander the Great from Asia. It was associated with the Roman goddess Juno, know in Greek culture as Hera. In Roman culture and religion, Juno was the wife of Jupiter and the queen of the gods, usually depicted on a chariot drawn by peacocks, her sacred animal, and holding a sceptre capped with a pomegranate, symbol of fertility and marital love. Peacocks were depicted across oil lamps in terracotta and bronze, mosaics and frescoes.