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Title:Triangular Base with Reliefs
Date Made:1st century BCE; Neo Attic School
Measurements:overall: 16 x 12 x 12 in.; 40.64 x 30.48 x 30.48 cm
Narrative Inscription:  unmarked
Accession Number:  SC 1921.17.1
Credit Line:Purchased
Museum Collection:  Smith College Museum of Art

Currently on view

candelabrum base with low relief of female dancing figure on each side, one blows fife-like musical instrument, second grasps her draperies and third holds a circular tympanum in left hand, thyrsus (staff tipped with pine cone and sometimes entwined with ivy, which Dioysus and sometimes satyrs were depicted as carrying) in right hand

Label Text:
This base once served as the pedestal for an elaborate Roman candelabrum. It supported a tall shaft crowned with a shallow bowl that held burning incense or lamp oil. Reliefs on each side depict maenads, who were female devotees of Dionysus, the god of wine and revelry. One dancer holds a thyrsus (a ritual staff topped with a pinecone), while another plays a double pipe.

Marble candelabra were most commonly found in Italy, where they typically decorated the gardens of private homes. Although the reliefs on this example depict sacred subjects, they did not serve a ritual purpose. Instead, such scenes of frolicking maenads added to the festive mood of outdoor parties.

archaeology; women; domestic space

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