This male head is cut straight under the neck. It is hollow and would have been molded in a bivalve mold. An unusual detail for this type and size of objects: the suspension ring soldered in the back of the neck, that would have served to attach the head to a support, the nature of which is currently unknown. The face shows the exaggerated and archetypal features of the Greek-Roman images known as “grotesque”: big aquiline and pointed nose, frowning and strongly marked eyebrows, wrinkled forehead, prominent cheekbones, full lips, 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. The statuettes of “grotesques” often represented mimes, street actors, music players, dancers, or even street vendors or workers suffering from physical deformities or afflictions that the sculptors treated in an exaggerated manner, to create a caricature-like effect. Unlike the actors of comedy and classical theater, the mimes and actors who performed in the street did not wear masks, and the female roles were played by women, and not by disguised men.
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.