Greek Hellenistic Votive Theater Mask of a Satyr
About the Piece
This interesting piece is a Greek terracotta mask that is in the form of a Satyr mask. This piece dates circa 2nd-1st century B.C., and is approximately 5.1 inches high by 4.2 inches wide. This piece is complete, and is intact, save for some very minute and old stress crack fill. This piece was mold made from a light yellow/tan terracotta, and it has nice detail. There are spotty dark black and brown deposits, along with some minute root marking. This piece is in the form of a Satyr head who is seen with an open mouth, goat horns at the top of the forehead, and goat ears. Satyrs were renowned for their lascivious appetites and mischievous behaviour, and personified the unrestrained fertility of Nature in the wild. They particularly enjoyed pursuing the nymphs, on whom they hoped to gratify their lust. In ancient Greek literature the Satyrs, like the Seleni, were debased and comic figures, for it was the custom of the Greek tragic poets, after presenting a trilogy of plays recounting one of the serious mythological dramas, to terminate their contributions to the festival of Dionysus with the performance of a light comedy based on the activities of these untragic folk. The type of terracotta mask offered here, was associated with the choruses of Greek drama and were often dedicated by revelers during Dionysiac festivals. This piece is likely a votive comic mask, and masks of this type were often dedicated to shrines, and/or graves, by individuals who were linked to the theater, either as a known patron, participant, or admirer of the arts. This dramatic piece shows the face of a Satyr with an open mouth and eyes, which conveys a look of surprize and perhaps even an emotion such as fear. The hole seen at the top of the forehead also allowed this piece to hang as a votive offering. This piece also hangs on a custom black plexiglas stand, and has a great deal of eye appeal. Ex: David Leibert collection, New York, circa 198's. (Another Greek terracotta theater mask of this analogous type and size from the David Leibert collection, was offered at Christie's Antiquities, New York, June 2001, no. 185. $3,000.00-$5,000.00 estimates.) I certify that this piece is authentic as to date, culture, and condition.