Egypt, Romano-Egyptian period, ca. 30 BCE to 2nd century CE. A striking mold-made terracotta oil lamp with a diamond-shaped base showing an illegible raised planta pedis (maker's mark), tall angled walls, flat shoulders with two bars of repeating linear designs, a central tondo with abstract tendril-like designs surrounding a stylized bear head, an ovular fill hole, and a small wick spout. The rectangular handle features a pronounced female face with almond-shaped eyes, a round chin, and long flowing bangs on one side; the verso depicts realistically delineated female genitalia. Perhaps the handle is symbolic of both natural feminine beauty and sexual desire, and is a graceful example of the Romano-Egyptian ideals of human sexuality as a whole. Size: 4.25" L x 2.375" W x 1.625" H (10.8 cm x 6 cm x 4.1 cm).
Provenance: private Carlton collection, Los Angeles, California, USA, acquired between 1965 and 1980
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Surface wear commensurate with age and use, minor char marks to wick spout, losses to side walls, shoulders, handle, and wick spout, with mineral deposits and earthen encrustations throughout. Female, linear, and flora imagery are still visible and well-detailed.