Terracotta protome of Dionysos


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

The god Dionysos can be recognized by two of his characteristic attributes, the cock and the egg. Dionysos was a god of the underworld, as well as of wine and the theatre, and eggs and cocks were popular offerings to underworld deities because of their evocations of life and fertility.This type of bust, called a protome, was made by pressing a thin layer of terracotta into a single mould. The earliest known examples were made in the Greek East, especially on the island of Rhodes, but from the early fifth century BC onwards they were also made at Tanagra and elsewhere in mainland Greece. The colours on this example are very striking and exceptionally well-preserved.


  • Title: Terracotta protome of Dionysos
  • Date Created: -350/-350
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 31.00cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: mould-made; painted
  • Subject: classical deity; bird
  • Registration number: 1874,0305.71
  • Production place: Made in Boeotia
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Tanagra
  • Period/culture: Boeotian
  • Material: terracotta
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Merlin, Charles Louis William

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