Museum Quality Bacchante Cameo
 
 
  • Material : Sardonyx Shell, 9k gold tested.
  • Size:  just over 2" by just over 1 1/2" only cameo is 1 6/8" by 1 2/8". 
  • Date and Origin: Circa 1870 Italy.
  • Conditions: Excellent, some slightest natural shell lines, only visible when cameo is backlit and not when the cameo is seen from the front. There is a letter scratched on the back, it is a "B".
Museum Quality cameo depicting a Bacchante. They were followers of Bacchus the God of wine (Dionysus is the Greek name). Bunches of grapes and wine leaves in her hair and she’s wearing a panther’s pelt.  The carving is crisp and clean and her lovely and pretty face is well  evidenced as the wine leaves and the grapes and the clothes. Her nose is a real Greek one, her mouth is full and round and so sensual, a real pretty face. This subject is a very popular Victorian one but finding the best carved ones is not easy at all. This one is, like all of my cameos, a wonderfully carved one. Everything is so realistic and well done, it seems that you could really pick the leaves and the bunch of grapes up from her head. The panther’s pelt too is so finely carved that seems just real. This is a beautiful Bacchante, look at the pictures which show all of her beauty. The frame is lovely too, engraved with scrolls on the cardinal points. This is another masterly carved cameo. A very desirable collectors piece. The frame is a bit bent on some points. 
 
A bit of history:
In Greek mythology, maenads (Bacchantes) were the female followers of Dionysus, the most significant members of the Thiasus, the retinue of Dionysus. The maenads were also known as Bacchae or Bacchantes in Roman mythology, after the penchant of the equivalent Roman god, Bacchus, to wear a fox-skin. Their name literally translates as "raving ones". Often the maenads were portrayed as inspired by him into a state of ecstatic frenzy, through a combination of dancing and drunken intoxication. In this state, they would lose all self-control, begin shouting excitedly, engage in uncontrolled sexual behavior, and ritualistically hunt down and tear animals (and sometimes men and children) to pieces, devouring the raw flesh. During these rites, the maenads would dress in fawn skins and carry a thyrsus, a long stick wrapped in ivy or vine leaves and tipped by a cluster of leaves; they would weave ivy-wreaths and fruiting vines around their heads, and often handle or wear snakes.