A Roman Chalcedony Dog, Roman Imperial Period, ca. 1st Century CE
Object No: RA1901
Exquisitely carved from white-blue chalcedony, the dog recumbent with its head laying on its outstretched front legs, the hind legs curled up under the body, the tail curled over the left hip, the finely detailed eyes, ears, and paws making this a truly splendid piece.
Much like today, the ancient Romans favored dogs as pets above all other domesticated animals. Dogs were used both in hunting and as guardians of the home. The Latin writer Varro, in his work on living in the country, says that every family should have two types of dog, a hunting dog and a watchdog. Dogs were seen as guardians against not only intruders, thieves, and wild animals, but also mythological threats. Trivia, the Roman goddess of sorcery and witchcraft, was said to silently prey upon unsuspecting victims, and their only warning came from dogs that were seemingly barking at nothing, for they could sense her when humans could not.
Dimensions: Length: 2.5 cm (1 inch)
Condition: Front leg repaired, but otherwise intact and in excellent condition overall. A truly charming piece!
Provenance: Collection of Jean-Philippe Mariaud de Serres, acquired prior to 2000; Ex Christie's, Paris, Collection Jean-Philippe Mariaud de Serres, 16 & 17 February 2011, lot 318.
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