Classical World, northern Italy, Etruria, probably from Montepulciano (near Chiusi), ca. 2nd to 1st century BCE. A wonderful example of a ceramic cinerarium, an urn for ashes, complete with lid depicting a woman reclining on a couch. The form is known as a cippi (box), and replaced the earlier Chiusi urns, which were ovoid. Her draped clothing is nicely molded, and her face is turned towards the viewer, with the curls of her hair visible around the edges of the cloak she wears around her head. One arm and hand are nicely presented lying along her side in a naturalistic pose. The base of the urn has column-like decoration at its corners and an incised inscription in Etruscan Latin reading "Pacinnei Celias." Size with lid: 5.75" L x 11.25" W x 11.5" H (14.6 cm x 28.6 cm x 29.2 cm)
The Etruscans in this region cremated their dead and deposited the ashes in a variety of containers. Women's cineraria are just one example of the prominence of women in Etruscan art, which suggests that they had more rights and public roles than women did in the Greek and Roman worlds. Etruscan women had their own names and could pass their rank on to children, as demonstrated by the use of matronyms on women's tombs.
According to the Sylloge Inscriptionum Latinarum Aevi Romanae Rei Publicae Usque Ad C. Iulium Caesarem Plenissima by Raffaele Garrucci (a book of known Roman Republic inscriptions), "Pacinnei Celias" is from Montepulciano (approximately twelve miles/twenty kilometers northwest of Chiusi). The Celus surname appears to correspond to an elite family from that region, and is found on multiple tombs in that area.
Provenance: private New Jersey, USA collection
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