The Roman Tintinnabulum
An artistic and pictorial overview
The Roman tintinnabulum, a term derived from the Latin for 'bell', was a small ornamental object used for decorative purposes. These metal wind chimes, often made of bronze or brass, were designed to be hung in gardens, courtyards, entrances and even shops, where they would make a gentle tinkling sound when the wind blew past.
What makes the tintinnabulum truly unique, however, is that many of these objects were designed in the shape of a phallus.
- Cast in solid brass
- Fully assembled
- Large phallus approx. 9.5cm - approx. 145g
- Small phallii approx. 4.5cm - approx. 19g each
The phallic symbolism of the Roman Tintinnabulum
Phallic symbols were common in ancient Rome, and the tintinnabulum was no exception. As a result, many of these small objects have a phallic shape with one or more bells attached to the end. The phallus, used in ancient times as a symbol of fertility and good luck, was said to ward off evil spirits and bring prosperity to the home. These symbols celebrated masculine energy and virility, which was very important to a large part of Roman society.
The significance of the tintinnabulum in Roman society
More than just a decorative object, the tintinnabulum was also a symbol of status and power. The wealthier members of Roman society often commissioned these objects, and the more elaborate and playful the design, the higher their social status. The tintinnabulum was a way of displaying wealth and power and impressing visitors to one's home or estate.
The intricate designs of the tintinnabulum
While the phallic shape of the tintinnabulum is certainly eye-catching, it is the unusual designs and attention to detail that really set these objects apart. The bells attached to the end of the phallus were often decorated with detailed patterns, and the bronze itself was often solidly cast and brightly polished. The tintinnabulum was a true work of art and was often passed down from generation to generation as a family heirloom.
The legacy of the tintinnabulum
Although the tintinnabulum may seem strange or even offensive from today's perspective, it was an important part of Roman culture and society. These objects represent a time in history when the phallus was seen as a symbol of power and fertility, and was celebrated in the arts for its beauty. Today, impressive examples can be seen in many museums, such as Naples in Italy, and these objects continue to fascinate and amaze visitors with their unique combination of art and phallic symbolism.