Roman Bronze Votive Hand (Sabazius) - LO.711 - For Sale

Roman Bronze Votive Hand (Sabazius) - LO.711
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This item is a magnificent and mysterious bronze votive sculpture of a human hand, attended by many cryptic symbols. The gesture formed by the hand is evocative of those associated with religious teachers in antiquity and a similar gesture is reused in early Byzantine Christian art, depicting Christ in an attitude of teaching or pontification. The first and second fingers are raised and slightly splayed, with the thumb nearby the forefinger, while the fourth and fifth fingers are folded into the palm. The hand is surrounded by magical creatures and symbols including a serpent, a turtle, a ram head, a lizard, an altar with an amphora, a frog or toad and an eagle which alights on a horizontal perch that rests across the middle and forefinger. This ‘perch’ may in fact represent a cluster of thunderbolts grasped in the eagle’s claws.Small votive hands, typically made of copper or bronze, are often associated with the cult of the god Sabazius. A Phrygian deity whose cult was influential in Thrace, he later became identified with Bacchus and Jupiter in the Roman Period. Many of these votive hands have a small perforation at the base which suggests that they may have been attached to wooden poles and carried in processions. The significance of the symbolism of these objects is not well known, but the presence of the eagle here, an animal sacred to Zeus (whom the Romans called Jupiter), seems to support the syncretistic connection of such a hand to the cult of Jupiter Sabazius. Many votive objects and cultic statues are connected with the various deities of the Greco-Roman world, and yet their symbolism is often fairly opaque to modern interpreters. The mystery cults associated with such deities as Demeter and Persephone, Dionysus, Mithras, Isis and Serapis, and many others, usually prized and fiercely guarded the cryptic and mystical nature of their symbolism, allowing only the initiated to glimpse the true meaning of these devices.

Ancient Roman
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Barakat Gallery
405 North Rodeo Drive
Beverly Hills
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Phone : 310.859.8408

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