Lovely Cameo of a Bacchante
  • Material: Sardonyx Shell, 9 k gold tested.
  • Size: 2 1/8" by 1 6/8", only cameo is 1 6/8" by 1 3/8".
  • Date and Origin: Circa 1870 Italy.
  • Conditions: Excellent conditions, a couple of finest internal lines, only very barely visible when cameo is backlit. Some traces of soldering on the pin device and on the bale, barely visible. Cameo moves a bit into the frame but is safe.
Excellent Quality cameo depicting a Bacchante, it is a large well carved cameo. Bacchantes were followers of Bacchus the God of wine (Dionysus is the Greek name). Bunches of grapes and wine leaves in her hair.  This is a beautiful Bacchante, an impressive piece, the pictures speak by themselves. Her facial features are strong and crisply carved as the wine leaves in her hair.  The shell is of high quality being so dark, you know that darker is the shell whiter is the carving and the darker colored shells are of higher quality. The frame is lovely too, so elaborate and wonderful in Etruscan revival style. This is another masterly carved cameo. The pictures really don’t show well the true beauty of this cameo that is a very desirable collectors piece.
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.