This face (the head is cut straight behind the ears, as if it was a mask) certainly represents a male figure; it shows some of the distinctive features of the Greek-Roman images known as “grotesque”, such as the big aquiline and pointed nose, the strongly marked, frowning eyebrows, the wrinkled forehead and the baldness with a lateral crown of hair.
The technical and artistic qualities of this piece are a good example of similar terracotta pieces, which were generally mass-produced in coarse clay and sold as simple souvenirs, as ex-votos or as elements for funerary furniture. At that time, such masks represented mimes or actors, who often improvised their performances in the street: unlike the actors of comedy and classical theater, the mimes performed without masks, and the female roles were played by women, and not by disguised men.
In our example, the rounded, generous profile of the cheeks might characterize this figure as an aulos (flute) player rather than a simple actor, although neither the instrument nor the strap that held the reed to the mouth (to help the flutist), are visible.
At the end of the Hellenistic period, in the large urban centers such as Rome and Alexandria, the theatrical genre of pantomime (according to tradition, this genre was created by Sophron of Syracuse in the 5th century B.C. already) was very popular, especially among the lower classes of society: the imitation and caricature of the members of the ruling class was so vehement, that, in the early Imperial period, mimes were strictly controlled, before being prohibited by Domitian in the late 1st century A.D.