Oil flask (aryballos) in the shape of male genitals with a bull's head in relief

Archaic Period
about 520–500 B.C.

Place of Manufacture: Greece, Attica, Athens


Overall: 11.5 x 8.5 cm (4 1/2 x 3 3/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Ceramic, Black Figure and black pattern

On View

Gallery 212A-B


The Ancient World



This fragmentary Attic vase is an aidoion, an oil vase (aryballos) in the shape of male genitals. Only the scrotum is preserved; the broken off penis, lost around the time of its acquisition, projected from the round hole from the front of the vessel. Such vessels held the oils used by Greek male athletes who carried them suspended from their wrists by a leather thong. On the back of the scrotum modelled in relief is the head of a long horned bull. Meander and other decorations are painted in black. Delicate incsions on the ox’s face indicate fur.


By dates unknown: said to be Albert Barre Collection (catalogue, no. 354) and Eugène Piot Collection (catalogue, p. 33); by date unknown: A. van Branteghem Collection (Hotel Drouot auction of van Branteghem Collection, Paris, May 30-31, and June 1, lot 261); by date unknown: with Edward Perry Warren; 1895: purchased by MFA from Edward Perry Warren for $ 29,857.37 (this figure is the total price for MFA 95.9-95.174)

Credit Line

Catharine Page Perkins Fund