Handle in the shape of a Black African man, possibly part of a lamp, 300 BCE-300 CE
Hellenistic or Roman
Turkey, possibly near Sardis
Terracotta and traces of reddish slip
5 × 2 ¼ × 2 ¾ in. (12.7 × 5.7 × 7 cm)
A small clay loop handle attached to the back of this figure’s neck indicates that it once served as some sort of anthropomorphic handle. The extant portions of the figure do not reveal what type of object to which it was attached, but it may have functioned as a lamp based on similar, more complete pieces. The figure is a Black African man, referred to as a Nubian by scholars. He leans over as if he is carrying a weight, but his arms and legs are missing. His head is oversized for the proportions of the body. He has short, curly hair, a wide nose, and a large mouth that is partially open. He wears a sarong around his waist and his torse is nude. The garment, according to scholar Jennifer Gates-Foster, may indicate the slave status of the individual. Other objects in the Arts of the Ancient World collection at the Menil may show enslaved figures as well (such as Y 105.01 and Y 108). People may have used these objects as status symbols that functioned as stand-ins for enslaved individuals.