Bucchero-Ware Fragment of a Horse Shaped Handle


A fragment of a handle made from Bucchero ware pottery. This is a type of ceramic ware produced between the 7th and 5th centuries BC, by the Etruscans, who were pre-Romans inhabiting the Italian peninsula. The handle is decorated with a horse protome including part of the anatomical features, which have been rendered in a naturalistic style: the mane, eyes and ears are all clearly distinguishable, thanks to raised ridges. To the back, is the curved handle projecting away from the horse profile.

Date: 6th century BC
Condition: Fragment of a handle, the right ear and both legs of this item have been damaged. The front of the horse has been reattached and repaired to the body.


SKU: AF-77 Category: Tags: , ,

‘Bucchero-ware’ refers to the pottery produced by central Italy’s pre-Etruscan population. The same practice of pottery was then adopted by the Etruscans – the lustrous black surface was achieved by diligent polishing, rather than by means of a gloss.

Southern Italy was populated by a large number of Greek colonies from the 8th century BC onwards – so much so that the Romans referred to the area as Magna Graecia – ‘Great Greece’. These Greek colonies were instrumental in bringing Greek culture and thought to Italy, greatly influencing Roman literature, philosophy, and material culture in turn.  During the Roman Empire, horses were extremely important for battle, as well as for aspects of everyday life, such as transportation, hunting, farming, and chariot racing. The Romans associated the horse with the spoils of war, connecting it symbolically with power, victory, honour, domination, and virility. In Graeco-Roman mythology and culture, the horse was said to have been created by Poseidon (Neptune) and devoted to Hades (Pluto) and Ares (Mars). The Romans also believed the horse to be a symbol of the continuity of life, and would sacrifice a horse to the god Mars every October, keeping its tail through the winter as a sign of fertility and rebirth.

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

Weight 186 g
Dimensions L 9.5 x W 3.2 x H 9.2 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


Reference: For a similar fragment, although in the shape of a different animal, see: The Met, Item Accession Number 2011.604.10.255 and for an item similar to one the handle would have come from: The Met, Item Accession Number 96.9.148a

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