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Figurine of a Dancer

RD Milns Antiquities Museum - Joy of Museums - Figurine of a Dancer

This Figurine of a Dancer was probably created as a gift. The figurine holds traces of pink paint, suggesting that her garments were once bright and colourful, making her an attractive gift for a wealthy family. In ancient Roman culture, sigillaria were pottery or wax figurines given as traditional gifts during the Saturnalia. The Sigillaria on 19 December was a day of gift-giving. Gifts were often the pottery or wax figurines called sigillaria made specially for the Saturnalia festival.

Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honour of the god Saturn, held on 17 December of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to 23 December. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, in the Roman Forum, and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, partying, and a carnival atmosphere.

During private festivities such as the Saturnalia festivals in the Greco-Roman world, the participation of freeborn Roman women is implied by sources that name gifts for women. Also female entertainers were certainly present at some these private festivity gatherings. This Figurine of a Dancer might have originated from such festivals and  intended as a festive present.

Essential Facts:

  • Name:                   Figurine of a Dancer
  • Provenance:         Morgantina, Italy
  • Date:                      250-225 BC
  • Material:               Terracotta
  • Museum:               RD Milns Antiquities Museum

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“I declare
That later on,
Even in an age unlike our own,
Someone will remember who we are.”
Sappho

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Photo Credit: By GordonMakryllos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons