Roman Green Lead-Glazed Terracotta Askos


A very fine Roman green lead-glazed terracotta askos featuring a squat ovoid body leading to a short neck with a stirrup-shaped mouth. A single double-barrelled handle has been applied across the top of the vessel. It has been is decorated with incised twirls to create a twisted effect with the imitation of a hinge. The askos has been further embellished with multiple designs in relief. Below the handle is a portrait image of Dionysus depicted as the older bearded god with naturalistic facial features. Across the body are ivy leaves on vines strengthening the symbolism with Dionysus.

Date: Circa 1st century BC
Condition: Excellent condition, chip to the rim of the mouth and minor hole to the body.

In stock

SKU: LD-536 Category: Tags: ,

Lead-glazed vessels were a Roman invention developed between the second-half of the 1st century BC. They continued to be produced until the 1st century AD. The terracotta vessels have a layer of thick glaze covering the exterior surface. Made from a mixture of silica and other minerals, predominantly lead, this discovery allowed potters to create a range of different colours. Vibrant turquoise greens, mustard yellows and rich browns could be added to the existing palette of red and black. This technique expanded the artistic repertoire, creating unique terracotta pieces. The process of creating lead-glazed vessels were costly and involved twice-firing the ceramic. Space was needed around each piece, to give the glaze room to drip freely. The inability to stack pieces into a kiln also increased the cost of production. Lead-glazed pieces originated in Syria and spread West, with inferior productions made in the Gaul. The practise died out largely due to the expensiveness of the production and the newly invention of blown glass.

The Roman god Bacchus, or Dionysus in the Greek world, was the god of wine, fertility, and theatre. In these, Bacchus represented both the ecstasy and danger of complete liberation. The worship of Dionysus was transported to Italy by Greek colonisation of Southern Italy and Sicily, and in Roman culture continued through the festival of Bacchanalia. Symbolically, Dionysus is usually represented with grapevines and a Thyrsos (pine-cone tipped staff), and he is often accompanied by a Panther or Leopard.

To find out more about Roman gods, please visit our relevant blogs: Roman Gods in Mythology.

Weight 332.8 g
Dimensions L 20.8 x H 17.1 cm


Pottery and Porcelain


Roman Mythology

Reference: For a similar item,The British Museum, item 1856,1226.584

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