May 4, 2009
May 4, 2009

Gorgoneion Plaque with Incised Figure of a Dancing Satyr

Gorgoneion Plaque with Incised Figure of a Dancing Satyr

c. 525–475 BC


Overall: 6.7 x 6.7 cm (2 5/8 x 2 5/8 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1994.8


Did you know?

This plaque includes a very rare ancient sketch: a satyr incised on the reverse surface.


Probably meant to decorate the outside of a wooden coffin or other tomb furniture, this small mold-made terracotta plaque is one of two in the collection (click here for the other). Both bear gorgoneia, or frontal Gorgon faces, with snaky hair, sharp teeth, and protruding tongue, perhaps meant to ward off evils. Curiously, this plaque also features decoration on its back side, in the form of a spirited dancing satyr incised into the clay before firing. Since this satyr would not have been visible once the plaque was in place, its purpose is uncertain. Was it simply diversion for the artisan who made it, or meant to protect the spirit of the deceased?

See also
GR - South Italy
Greek and Roman Art
Type of artwork: 

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