A bone fragment with a wonderfully detailed scene, carved in relief. Depicted is a nude man who has a full beard and a moustache, fringes of hair at the sides of his balding head, a snub nose, pointed ears and the tail of an ass. He is seated on a rock. His right hand grasps his staff, as if leaning against it. The staff is ornamented with a pine cone, and is probably a thyrsos, a staff made from giant fennel (ferula communis). In his left hand the man is holding a small bowl.
This is most likely Silenos, the god of wine-making and drunken excess, who was the companion and tutor of Dionysos. He was a notorious consumer of wine, and is often depicted with a cup in his hand. However, it is also possible that he is one of the sileni, the elderly daimones in the following of Dionysos, fathers of the satyrs and sons of Silenos.
Roman, circa first - second century C.E.
UK private collection of James Chesterman (1926-2014), acquired in Paris in June 1984.
James Chesterman was a publisher with a particular interest in terracottas and other miniature representations, which he considered a charming reflection of a now lost world, their diminutive size being an extension of childhood, when miniature toys excited him. He enjoyed them as good sculptures in their own right, portraying aspects of ancient Greek and Roman life. Part of his large collection was acquired by the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge in 1979.
Fragment as shown; some overall surface wear including some scratching and abrasion, with some minor darker discolouration in a few spots; the surface was treated for protection; a small inventory sticker attached to the back.