Thymiatérion

Photogallery

Thymiatérion
Thymiatérion
Room IX. Guglielmi Collection

This instrument for burning incense or perfume essences is composed primarily of a tripod, a stem supported by a male statuette and equipped with two plates, on which the cup (not found) would be placed to contain the essences to be burned.
The statuette depicts a young nude making offerings – on the right, an egg or a fruit, on the left a kylix (?) – wearing typically Etruscan shoes with the point turned upwards, the calcei repandi, and a necklace with a pendant in the form of the head of a dog or a wolf (?), which in turn recalls the underworld; the face is typical of archaic Etruscan art, with Ionic influence.
It is possible that the figure with the egg and kylix (cup for wine) alludes to Dionysius in relation to his link to the underworld, as the symposiast of the Tomb of the Lionesses (520 B.C.), which bears the same attributes.
Thymiateria (censers) were widespread in the ancient Mediterranean, with precedents in Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Syro-Palestinian area, and the Aegean. The offering of incense was originally associated with the world of the gods, the deceased and royalty. In Etruria, aside from ritual use, it is possible that incense and essences were accompanied by aristocratic ceremonies, possibly to perfume the banquet hall.