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Bronze strigil with handle in form of a girl


Height: 40.600 cm

Castellani Collection

GR 1873.8-20.2 (Bronze 665)

Room 71: Etruscan world

    Bronze strigil with handle in form of a girl

    Praenestine, around 300 BC
    Found at Palestrina (ancient Praeneste) in Latium (Lazio, Italy)

    A sporty Etruscan girl

    This large bronze strigil is very unusual in having a handle in the form of a human figure. Figured handles were more often used for shallow dishes. The girl, herself holding a strigil, rises on tiptoe and shields her eyes from the sun. She is naked apart from soft leather laced-up shoes. Her wavy hair is twisted around a band decorated with three flowers and then bound in a bun.

    In the Greek world strigils are most often associated with athletes. Before exercising or competing, athletes applied oil to their bodies to keep the dirt out of the pores of the skin and perhaps also to avoid sunburn. Afterwards a strigil was used to scrape off the accumulated oil, dirt, and sand from the sports ground. In Etruria strigils are occasionally found together with mirrors and cosmetic containers in women's tombs. This may indicate that Etruscan women practised some kind of physical exercise, but the strigils could have been used simply for cleansing purposes.

    F.R. Serra Ridgway, I corredi del Fondo Scataglini (Milan, Comune di Milano, Settore cultura e spettacolo, Raccolte archeologiche e numismatiche)

    J. Swaddling, The ancient Olympic Games, 3rd edition (London, The British Museum Press, 2004)

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

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


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    On display: Room 71: Etruscan world

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