Perfume jar (balsamarium) in the shape of female head (Aphrodite / Turan?)

Italic, Etruscan
Hellenistic Period
late 3rd–early 2nd century B.C.

Catalogue Raisonné

Greek, Etruscan, & Roman Bronzes (MFA), no. 505; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 125 (additional published references).


Overall: 10.5 x 7.6 x 6.4 cm (4 1/8 x 3 x 2 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World



A balsamarium or perfume vase in the shape of a woman’s head, most likely the goddess of love Turan or the Lassae, Etruscan spirits of beauty who waited on divine and mortal women at their toilet. As it was found in a tomb in Etruria (between Ferentinum and Bomarzo), most likely a prized possession of a wealthy Etruscan lady. The head is decorated with a diadem with two doves (associated with the worship of Aphrodite), elongated drop earrings, and a necklace of pendants. The eyes were inserted–probably glass irises were set into a fine lime paste. The base is decorated with a rosette.

The lid is missing and there is no evidence of any attached handles. Dark and light green patina with heavy earth encrustation.


By date unknown: with Edward Perry Warren (according to Warren's records: found in a tomb on the road between Ferentinum and Bomarzo with MFA 98.683 and 98.684); 1898: purchased by MFA from Edward Perry Warren for $ 69,618.13 (this figure is the total price for MFA 98.641-98.940)

Credit Line

Henry Lillie Pierce Fund