Lidded box (cista)
Unknown artist, Etruscan
Lidded box (cista), late 4th - mid 3rd century BCE
Height: 29.5 cm (11 5/8 inches)
Gift of Mrs. Gustav Radeke 06.014
The frieze on this cosmetic box is reminiscent of those found on Attic oil jars of the fourth and third centuries BCE. The gesture of the frieze’s main female figure, wearing only sandals and touching her veil, is associated with both marriage and death, while the bath being poured is appropriate for both bridal and funerary contexts. The presence of the god Mercury in his role as conductor of souls indicates a transition for the main figure. In the ancient Greek world, marriage was viewed as a symbolic death, and the marriage ceremony mimicked funeral rites. Thus the box may have been either a wedding gift or a burial offering.