Rare Greek breast pump or joke vessel

Object number
Object: Vessel with hole in the bottom
Breast pump or joke vessel

Material: Red clay with glossy black slip

Date: 4th - 3rd century B.C.
Hellenistic epoch

Description:    Globular body, flat base, funnel-shaped spout, vertical handle. On top a central medallion showing Medusa. Filling hole in the bottom.
The original use of this rare vessel type is still under discussion in the scientific community. Some experts assume that the vessels were used as "joke vessels" in games. Others have proposed that the vessels might have been used as breast pumps. In the first case, the medusa head would be purely decorative, in the second case have a apotropaic meaning, protecting the infant.

Size: Diameter 108 mm with and 85 mm without handles. Height 86 mm with and 73 mm without handles.

Condition: Perfectly preserved, worth the exhibition in a museum.

References: W. Hornbostel, Kunst der Antike (Hamburg 1977) p. 406 Nr. 349, further references therein.
D. Klebe and H. Schadewaldt, Gefäße zur Kinderernährung im Wandel der Zeit (Frankfurt 1955) Abb. 12-14

Provenance: Acquired 2021 from a German private collection. Inherited 2017 from the German collection I. Holtermann. Acquired between 1966 and 1968 at an ancient art gallery in Cologne, Germany.

Authenticity: We unconditionally guarantee the authenticity of every artefact, all items are subject to our lifetime return policy on authenticity.