This oinochoe is complete and in excellent condition. The dark-brown surface of the bronze is partially covered with a beautiful green patina. In places, mostly on the lower vessel, there are still traces of the original golden color of the metal, due to a high amount of tin in the alloy.
This vase was made from several elements, which were worked separately and then assembled. The body and the neck were hammered from a single sheet of bronze to which the handle and the elements of the circular base were soldered. The handle, including the ornament in the shape of a female mask, is of solid bronze.
Technically and artistically, this piece is of the highest quality. The body, with its sinuous and elegant profile, is provided with a vertical handle decorated with scrolls and with a large flower. The element in the shape of a curved palmette, which was soldered to the lip and whose outline corresponds to that of a thumb, allowed a better hold while pouring the liquid into the drinking cups. At the lip, the handle terminates in two stylized bird heads (ducks or swans), a recurring motif on such vessels in the Roman period. Several concentric circles in relief form the base of the oinochoe. The lower attachment of the handle was modeled in the shape of a mask, probably female, which can be identified as the head of a maenad. Maenads were the female followers of Dionysus, often depicted in the midst of a frenzied dance with the god and the satyrs. Here, the broad, chubby face of the young woman is framed by a thick hair and by an undulating wreath of vine leaves (?).
Bronze jugs of this type were largely widespread in the Hellenistic, and especially the Roman world. Certainly intended for a wealthy or aristocratic class, they served as tableware for pouring wine in the cups of the guests. The drink, a mixture in variable proportions of water and wine, was drawn from a large krater which was placed at the center of the dining room. Similar oinochoi are well attested in many ancient sites, including Pompeii, where various versions with a more or less elongated or globular body, with a flat or rounded lip, with a high handle, etc. were excavated and classified.
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