Romano-Egyptian Terracotta Female Head

$311.19

A Romano-Egyptian terracotta fragment portraying a female head. She is portrayed in a neutralistic manner, though her facial features are now largely worn due to age. She is seen wearing large earrings, which complement her elaborate hairstyle. Her hair is drawn up and kept by a tall headband, curling at the front and neatly arranged at the back. This head fragment would have originally belonged to a votive statuette produced in Alexandrian workshops. Mould-made in two sections, the fragment displays on its sides the lines where the two halves were attached together in antiquity.

Date: Circa 2nd century AD
Provenance: From a North London gentleman collection, in storage since the 1970s; then property of a West London gentleman.
Condition: Fragment in good condition, mounted on a custom-made stand, minor piercing to the top of the hair.

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Physical appearance was of paramount importance in Ancient Rome and much energy was invested into it, as it would have reflected an individual’s social status. Hairstyles, along with jewellery, would have been one of the principal means to showcase wealth and prestige, as well as a major determinant of physical attractiveness. Slaves would keep their hair short, to reflect their low social status, and would tend to the intricate hairstyles of their masters, a scene typically carved on gravestones. Women would normally wear their hair drawn up and controlled by hairpins and nets, as loose hair was associated with loose morals. More elaborate hairstyles, such as the one seen on this piece, would have been achieved with wigs, which were commonly made out of human hair harvested from slaves. Different hairstyles characterised different time periods: the relative simplicity of off-swept hair tied at the back into a nodus, seen under the Julio-Claudian gens, was dismissed by complex styles with towering heights and multiple components during the Flavian era.

Weight 100.8 g
Dimensions H 5.5 cm
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Pottery and Porcelain