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Greek Messapian Terracotta Trozella

Classical World, Southern Italy, Apulia, Messapian tribe, ca. 5th to 3rd century BCE. A beautiful example of the most famous form of Messapian pottery, the trozella (also spelled trozzella). The vessel has high strap handles, each adorned with a pair of petite "wheels" ("trozella" means "little wheels" in the local dialect). The body is wide and squat, with a flared rim that flows effortlessly into the handles, and the entire vessel stands atop a short, round foot. Around the body is a decorative register of solid and stippled bands and linear designs accentuating the handles and rim, all in a lustrous chocolate-brown hue on a beige ground. A pair of abstract designs also details the bottom of each handle portion connected to the rim, perhaps the upper half of a swan. A stunning example! Size: 7" W x 6.75" H (17.8 cm x 17.1 cm).

Although the Messapian people were influenced by Greek colonists in other parts of southern Italy, they had a distinctive culture that included burial practices uniquely their own - and their distinctive terracotta form, the trozella, played a role. Unlike the Greeks in Apulia, Messapians reused their tombs for several burials, probably from the same family. Whenever a tomb was reused, the earlier grave goods were removed, along with the body, and then reburied inside or outside the same tomb. In this culture, grave goods indicated both social standing and gender, and the trozella is only found in the graves of women. The quality of the artwork on this trozella suggests that it was placed in the tomb of a high-status woman.

See a similar example that sold in 2001 at Christie's for $1723: http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Lot/a-messapian-pottery-trozella-circa-330-300-bc-3806993-details.aspx

Condition: Both handles repaired and reattached with some resurfacing, overpainting, and earthen material along break lines. Expected age-commensurate surface wear and abrasions, fading to pigmentation, small chips to base, rim, body, and handles, otherwise very good. Nice earthen and mineral deposits throughout.

Provenance: private Secaucus, New Jersey, USA collection

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