Roman Terracotta ‘Plastic’ Lamp of a Monkey


A Roman plastic oil lamp of a monkey, holding itself a dual-nozzle oil lamp. The monkey is seated on a tall chair, holding his lamp in his hands so that it rests upon his lap. He appears dressed in a loose fitting robe, some semblance of folds can just be made out. His ears jut out and his facial features are unmistakably simian. There is a large hole to the reverse, to aid in the firing process. A very rare type.

Date: Circa 1st - 2nd century AD
Provenance: From the collection of Arno Jumpertz, Leverkusen, Germany, 1924-1984. Much of the collection was exhibited at the Neus Museum, 1985.
Condition: Fine. Some professional restoration to body.


SKU: AH-614 Category: Tags: ,

‘Plastic’ oil lamps were figurine types which first appeared in the Hellenistic period. They grew in popularity in the 1st – 2nd century AD. They grew out of fashion in the 4th century with the emergence and rise of Christianity. These moldmade figures, were considered the luxury items for the poorer classes, used as votive offerings, as statues in the home and even as toys for children.

For more information about the meanings of animals in Roman art, see our relevant blog post: Animal Symbolism in Roman Art.

Weight 208.5 g
Dimensions W 5.7 x H 18.5 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


Reference: The J. Paul Getty Museum, New York, item 83.AQ.377.513