Terracotta globular cup with two handles

Period: Archaic

Date: last quarter of the 6th century B.C.

Culture: Etruscan

Medium: Terracotta; black-figure, Pontic ware

Dimensions: H.: 5 3/4 in. (14.6 cm)

Classification: Vases

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 2009

Accession Number: 2009.316


The distinctive form of this cup was influenced by metal prototypes and is also known in Etruscan Bucchero. It belongs to a select group of black-figure vases, termed Pontic ware, that were produced in Etruria by an artist known as the Paris Painter and his followers in the second half of the sixth century B.C. Its decoration is especially notable. The main scene on each side of the body represents a phallos-bird with spread wings among black birds.
During the Late Archaic period (ca. 520–480 B.C.), the phallos-bird was a popular motif for vase painters in Athens, where it had obvious erotic connotations and was frequently associated with young women or satyrs in a Dionysian milieu. While its specific meaning in Etruscan art is less clear, its depiction on this vase in a natural setting among more common birds displays a vitality that is characteristically Etruscan. From the black-figure technique, the iconography, and other features, it is apparent that this globular cup was made to emulate East Greek and Athenian painted vases that were desirable to Etruscan collectors.