Thracian artifacts from the Vassil Bozhkov’s Collection

Bronze Etruscan wine jug with Gorgoneion on the handle

The Vassil Bozhkov Collection is considered one of the most valuable and unique private collections
worldwide. Including more than 3000 artefacts dated from the 8 th century BC to the 6 th century AD,
this rich archaeological assemblage speaks for the cultural, religious, and political development of
the antique world as well as the high level of craftsmanship mastered by different ancient
civilizations. Some of the most noteworthy exemplars are ascribed to workshops in Scythia, Thrace,
Greece, and Etruria. Other rare pieces from the VBC derive from the Middle and Near East, Asia
Minor, the North Aegean coast and other places.

Bronze Etruscan wine jug with Gorgoneion on the handle
Bronze Etruscan wine jug with Gorgoneion on the handle

This particular oinochoe, for example, belongs to the Etruscan art. The Etruscans resided in central
Italy during the 9 th -2 nd century BC and were known for their skills in pottery, portraiture, colourful
tomb paintings, as well as metal sculptures. Despite the fact that the Etruscan artists borrowed and
implemented different characteristics and techniques from the antique Greek artistic style, the
formal still showcased distinctive features and forms.

Bronze Etruscan wine jug with Gorgoneion on the handle

/Illustration of Bronze Etruscan Oinochoe from the 475-450 century BC/

In this sense, the bronze piece from Vassil Bozhkov Collection is made with a raised globular body and
round mouth. It is a quite popular shape used for the making of metal oinochoe in workshops in
Etruria, Greece, Corsica and Campania, especially during the Archaic to the Hellenistic period.
Although plain in style, there are still some embossed and chased elements remaining on the handle
of the bronze Etruscan oinochoe. This part of the ancient wine jug is attached to the rim and
carefully soldered on the body. Clearly visible and well-preserved are two attachments on the
handle. The upper one represents a rectangular plaque positioned right under the thick rim. The
second attachment is placed lower on the handle and is in the shape of a Gorgon face.

Gorgon’s face on Bronze Ancient Wine Jug from Vassil Bozhkov Collection
Gorgon’s face on Bronze Ancient Wine Jug from Vassil Bozhkov Collection

What is interesting is that in ancient Greece the Gorgoneion was used as a protective amulet. Apart
on this type of vessels, the Gorgo’s imagery could be seen inscribed on weapons, dishes, coins and
even clothes. Nevertheless, compared to similar objects, the Gorgoneion on the Vassil Bozhkov
oinochoe is one of the best preserved examples. Its grotesque grimace is highlighted by the eyes
that are wide open, large nose, and mouth with canine teeth and stuck-out tongue. Messy curls and
large ears with earrings in the shape of disks complete the menacing look of the Gorgon.
This bronze oinochoe is dated somewhere between 475-450 century BC. Unfortunately, its origin is
unknown.

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