Bronze statuette of Vanth

Etruscan, 425-400 BC
Found near Mount Vesuvius, Campania, Italy

An Etruscan death daemon

Vanth was the servant of Charun (Greek Cheiron), lord of the Underworld. She begins to appear in Etruscan mythology from the late fifth century BC, and becomes the most frequently represented of the Etruscan death daemons or spirits. She is often depicted on cinerary urns (urns that hold the ash of a cremated body), where she gazes sternly at a representation of the deceased, holding a scroll with a text that somehow relates to his or her life. She is usually shown as an attractive young woman, wearing a tunic, sometimes with high boots and carrying a torch. She is usually winged, and as here, often has bearded snakes entwined around her arms.

It seems that Vanth is present at, but not actively involved in, death. She attends from the moment of death until entry into the Underworld. She is occasionally represented at battles and at the slaughter of prisoners, or leading souls on their way.

This bronze statuette was perhaps a votive dedication.

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More information

Bibliography

N.T. de Grummond, A guide to Etruscan mirrors (Tallahassee, Florida, Archaeological News, Inc., 1982)

O. Brendel, Etruscan art, Pelican History of Art (Yale University Press, 1995)

E. Macnamara, The Etruscans-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)

S. Haynes, Etruscan bronzes (London, Sotheby's Publications, 1985)

Dimensions

Height: 11.000 inches

Museum number

GR 1772.3-2.15 (Bronze 1449)

GAA336

Hamilton Collection

Location

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