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Oct 11, 2012

Beauty cases for the underworld.



Cista Ficoroni (IV century b.C.) - Etruscan Museum Villa Giulia.
Cistae are metal boxes mostly cylindrical, covered with incised decorations.They were found in the fourth-century necropolis at Praeneste (a town, located 37 kilometers southeast of Rome, an Etruscan outpost in the seventh century B.C.). The most famous cista and the first to be discovered is the Ficoroni presently in the Museum of Villa Giulia in Rome, named after the collector Francesco Ficoroni who first owned it. The cista was found at Praeneste but its dedicatory inscription indicates Rome as the place of production: NOVIOS PLVTIUS MED ROMAI FECID/ DINDIA MACOLNIA FILEAI DEDIT (Novios Plutios made me in Rome/ Dindia Macolnia gave me to her daughter).
The engraving represents the myth of the Argonauts: the boxing match between Pollux and Amicus, in which Pollux is victorious. The engravings might be the reproduction of a lost fifth-century painting by Mikon.
The function and use of Praenestine cistae are still unresolved questions. We can safely say that they were used as funerary objects to accompany the deceased into the next world. It has also been suggested that they were used as containers for toiletries, like a beauty case. Some contained tweezers, make-up boxes, mirrors, strigils and sponges. The large size of the Ficoroni cista, however, excludes such a function and points toward a more ritualistic use.

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