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. Within are small pieces of dried clay that produce a rattling sound when shaken. This terracotta pig may have served as a toy to entertain a child, but could also have had protective properties. Disease regularly claimed the lives of infants and young children, and the sound of the rattling pellets may have been intended to ward off evil. Pigs were also sacrificed to various Greek gods, such as Demeter and Persephone, in return for the protection of children and those raising them. 

The pig 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.

- 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.