Roman, Imperial Period, ca. 1st to 3rd century CE. A cast bronze chariot attachment, for placement on the wheel hub, terminating in three standing, dancing bears. Comes with custom stand. Size: 1.2" L x 1.7" W x 3.7" H (3 cm x 4.3 cm x 9.4 cm); height on stand: 5.25" (13.3 cm).
The bears have simple features, with wide arms outstretched almost to touch each other (two do, but that seems to be a result of post-production bending rather than intention). They stand atop a round, hollow tube with a wider central section and cast rope-like designs around the exterior marking out each of the three sections.
Dancing bears were a common form of spectacle in Rome: authors like Lucian and Seneca, decrying the roughness of the Roman citizenry, describe serious plays interrupted by crowds chanting for athletic feats, tumbling, and bear dancing. Here they are playful, perhaps reflecting a personal favorite entertainment of the person who commissioned this piece.
Provenance: Ex-private east coast, USA collection
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