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The Moon God Mên (3rd century CE)

For Artwork in Focus we explore individual artworks, critiquing their style and discussing their socio-political context. Today we look at The Moon God Mên (3rd century CE).

About the Work

Title : The Moon God Mên
Year : 3rd century CE)
Medium : Terracotta
Dimensions : 7.2 x 10 x 3.4 cm (6 3/4 x 3 15/16 x 1 5/16 in.)
Location : Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Mên is the god of the Moon.

According to the digital catalogue of the Harvard Art Museums :

“He wears a Phrygian cap, a cloak over an elaborate tunic or segmented cuirass, and trousers. In his extended right hand is an offering bowl or patera. The ends of a crescent moon are visible behind his shoulders.”

In this statue, Mên’s horse stands on a plinth with his left foreleg raised. The moon god himself, while sitting on the horse, turns to his right side. The piece is the perfect example of art from this era – which often depicted deities of heroes. Representations of Mên often included a crescent moon.

Other Details

The Moon God Mên is housed in the Harvard Art Museums in Room 3700. It is part of the museum’s collection of Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Art – Roman Art. The piece has been housed at the Museum since 2012.

To learn more about iconic artworks and their socio-political context, visit Artwork in Focus.

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