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Identification and Creation
Object Number
1995.844.12
Title
Phallic Amulet with Snail-Shell Testicles
Classification
Amulets
Work Type
amulet
Date
n.d.
Places
Creation Place: Unidentified Region
Period
Modern
Culture
Unidentified culture
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/304289
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Brass
Technique
Cast, lost-wax process
Dimensions
4.2 cm (1 5/8 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: XRF data from Tracer
Alloy: Brass
Alloying Elements: copper, zinc
Other Elements: tin, lead, iron
K. Eremin, January 2014

Technical Observations: The object is very well preserved, and there is no significant corrosion present. It is probably not ancient. The patina is black and brown with spots of green. It was probably cast from a model made directly in wax.


Henry Lie (submitted 2012)

Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of David and Genevieve Hendin
Accession Year
1995
Object Number
1995.844.12
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions

Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
This amulet consists of a phallus with molded testicles in the shape of snail shells topped by a small suspension loop. The shell-testicles have a spiral pattern with raised ridges, and the center of each spiral is the widest point of the shell. The head is modeled and flattened at the tip; there is a raised seam on the underside of the phallus.

Although phallic amulets are common finds from the Roman world, this piece is modern. While no exact parallels for this type are known, it is very similar in style to the winged amulet, 1995.844.11 (1).

NOTES:

1. Compare P. Lebel, Catalogue des collections archéologiques de Besançon 5: Les bronzes figurés (Paris, 1961) 54, no. 152, pl. 61.3; M. Veličković, Rimska sitna bronzana plastika u Narodnom muzeju = Petits bronzes figurés romains au Musée National, Antika 4 (Belgrade, 1972) 195, no. 156; and N. Franken, “Die antiken Bronzen im Römisch-Germanischen Museum Köln: Die Fragmente von Grossbronzen und die figürlichen Bronzegeräte,” Kölner Jahrbuch 29 (1996): 7-203, esp. 196, no. 274, fig. 405.


Lisa M. Anderson

Subjects and Contexts

Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu