The J. Paul Getty Museum

Rattle in the Shape of a Pig

Object Details


Rattle in the Shape of a Pig




Greek (Sicilian)


Centuripe, Sicily, Italy (Place Created)


3rd century B.C.


Terracotta with traces of Polychromy

Object Number:



8.3 × 5.4 × 13.5 cm (3 1/4 × 2 1/8 × 5 5/16 in.)

Credit Line:

Gift of David Collins

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Object Description

A pig's large stomach hangs low, and touches the ground beneath. The animal's small legs seem barely able to support its weight. This figure was formed by pressing wet clay into a two-part mold to form a small sculpture in the round that can be seen from any side. After the figure was fired in a kiln, it was removed from the mold and painted in bright colors. Traces of pink and white pigment are still visible on the figurine.

Inside the pig, small pieces of dried clay produce a rattling sound when shaken. Children in ancient Greece would have been amused by a rattle like this one. In antiquity, however, when disease often claimed the lives of infants and young children, the sound produced by rattles was also intended to ward off evil. Rattles in the shape of pigs probably had magical meanings, since pigs were sacrificed to various gods in return for protection of children and those caring for them.

Terracotta figurines such as this have been found in children's graves and sanctuaries, where they were left as gifts to the gods.

- 1978

David Collins (Beverly Hills, California), donated to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1978.

Coming of Age in Ancient Greece: Images of Childhood from the Classical Past (August 23, 2003 to December 5, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), September 14 to December 5, 2004
SICILY: Art and Invention between Greece and Rome (April 3, 2013 to June 15, 2014)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa (Malibu), April 3 to August 19, 2013
  • The Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland), September 29, 2013 to January 5, 2014

Lyons, C. "Guide to the Collection of South Italian and Sicilian Terracottas." In Ancient Terracottas from South Italy and Sicily in the J. Paul Getty Museum. Maria Lucia Ferruzza. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2016), pp. 222, fig. 31, ill.