- Museum number
Canopic urn set upon a chair, the ovoid jar modelled as a rudimentary torso with handles at the shoulders, and the lid modelled as a head with 23 holes probably for the attachment of a mask.
The material is of a red-brown impasto throughout. The head is male, of early archaic type, with very low forehead; the hair is indicated on the back by rough parallel incisions made when the clay was soft.
The urn itself has a vertical depression down each wide side. On one side there is a crude horizontal groove near the top, curving down at each end, presumably demarcating the pectoral muscles (rather than the trapezius) and below it the linea alba.
The chair or throne is of the usual Etruscan type, with heavy circular base, the upper part flaring out. It has on the horizontal sitting surface a circular hole 8.5 cm in diameter which is slightly smaller than the diameter of the base of the urn.
- Production date
- 625BC-600BC (circa)
Height: 58.50 centimetres
Width: 38.30 centimetres
Depth: 31.20 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- The face, with prominent narrow rounded chin, is similar to those on contemporary bucchero pottery from the Chiusine area. The holes in the face, which penetrate right through the thickness of the clay, are matched by a few other canopic heads of similar date. In this example they are present around the circumference of the face, on and around the lips and mouth, as well as around the entire circumference of the base of the neck. It has often been thought that they were for the tying of a bronze face mask to the vessel lid; however there are many more holes than are needed for this purpose, only a minority of canopics have such holes, and in these cases the faces modelled in the clay are no less fully detailed than those which have no holes. Bronze masks in similar style with (fewer) holes have been found in Chiusine tombs, even together with (unperforated) canopic urns, but none have been found with evidence of having been tied (eg. Bianchi Bandinelli, "Clusium", MonAnt 30 (1925) cols 447-8 fig. 61).
The chair or throne is based on actual chairs made in wicker work or carved wood. Chairs of similar form can be seen in archaic rock-cut tombs at Cerveteri.
The standard type of canopic urn, as exemplified here, is a product of Chiusi and surrounding areas in North Etruria. The intention seems to have been to create an image of the deceased. The cremated remains were placed in the urn beneath the head cover, this placed on the chair, and the whole ensemble often put in a large clay ziro or pithos at the bottom of the tomb.
There are many instances of acquisitions made in the nineteenth century where the chair, urn, and cover do not belong. In the present case the only suspicious element is that the head cover is of a redder clay (or finish) than the rest of the ensemble.
[T. Rasmussen in Bruschetti et al 2014, III.60]
- On display (G71/dc18)
- Exhibition history
2014 22 Mar - 30 Sep, Museo dell'Accademia Etrusca e della Citta di Cortona, ' La Gran Bretagna e gli Etruschi '.
- Acquisition date
- Greek and Roman
- Registration number