Puglia, 3rd century BC.
Size: 21,6 cm high
review by gherardo turchi
Ancient thymiatherion of Apulian-Canosa production of the 3rd century BC
The vase it is not a simple container because, on account of the original plastic conception, the specimen has a considerable decorative value.
The piece is sculpted with a peculiar light hazel clay, with traces of red and white overpainting, which give the vase a lively polychromy. This specimen is moulded and it has a hollow interior. The base of this thymiatherion (incense burner) is very “bizarre”. It consists of a central standing female figure (probably a nursemaid) which functions as a caryatid for the perfume tray, and two figures of children; one on the left and one on the right (the latter is in the nursemaid’s arms). The central figure is wearing a chiton and supports the so-called thymiatherion tray. On the left side of the figurative group there is a small container with a lid (probably a perfume container) placed on a small pillar. This specimen is very rare and for this reason of great value. It is difficult to compare it with other similar specimens and therefore to deduce the exact origin and chronology. The only possible comparison can be drawn with an identical, though free-standing, figurative group preserved in Munich, Sammlung Loeb – Terrakotten der Sammlung Loeb, II, p.40, tav.101. The figure of the nursemaid instead, can be typically found in a incense burner housed in the Archaeological Museum “Jatta” of Ruvo – Di Paolo p.116, n.2.
The piece was analysed by the Nucleo Carabinieri Tutela Patrimonio Culturale of Florence and resulted to be legally sourced. Also, it has obtained the approval for sale by the Soprintendenza Archeologica Belle Arti e Paesaggio per la città metropolitana di Firenze e le province di Pistoia e Prato.
Although the work is not protected by constrain from the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali, it cannot be exported outside the Italian national territory.