A rare Etruscan ivory sistrum
Circa 6th-4th Centuries B.C.
The finely carved fluted handle with eight grooved ribs, a raised collar above and below, both inlaid with fine gold wire to form a meander pattern, with a bulbous terminal, possibly once representing the head of an animal, the handle surmounted by two actor's masks, a comic actor represented on one side, his exaggerated mouth agape and 'real' lips visible within, the wide open eyes with engraved details of the arched eyebrows and rims, with a deeply furrowed brow and broad wrinkled nose, the face framed by a fringe and locks of hair falling below the ears, a second mask on the other side representing a tragic actor, with down-turned prominent mouth and large eyes engraved in sunk relief carved with details of the rims, the face framed by thick wavy hair, locks falling to cover the ears, a palmette surmounting the heads carved with naturalistic details, a rectangular hollowed socket on each side of the palmette to take the curved arms, the remains of a bronze pin in the base of one of these sockets, 85/8in. (21.8cm), both of the separately made arms composed of a fluted lotus flower from which the head of an open-mouthed lion emerges, tapering towards the base in order to fit the hollowed sockets at the sides of the palmettes, a raised collar around the middle of the arm of similar construction to those on the handle, both inlaid with gold wire to form a meander pattern, the lion's head shown with bulbous eyes and large ears set flat back, carved with details of the nostrils and whiskers, the jaw agape with teeth visible from within, 5¼in. (13.4cm.) and 5½in. (14cm.), and four discs, each pierced centrally, two of slightly convex form with three carved ridges encircling the hole, a grooved ridge around the edge, 1¾in. (4.4cm.) diam., two of double-sided convex form with a double grooved band around the edge, 1¾in. (4.4cm.), re-composed from fragments, some surface splitting, with infill and reconstruction in places, a more detailed condition report is available from the Department upon request