Female Head

22. Pendant: Female Head

Accession Number83.AO.202.18
Date480–450 B.C.
DimensionsHeight: 30 mm; width: 21 mm; depth: 9 mm; Weight: 4.3 g
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–1983, Antike Kunst Palladion (Basel, Switzerland); 1983, Vasek Polak, 1914–97 (Hermosa Beach, CA), donated to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1983.


The pendant is intact but in poor condition. The surface is friable and has suffered many small chips and losses. The tip of the nose is missing. On the reverse, the amber’s surface-layer flaking is particularly severe. A yellow-ocher crust covers most of the surface. Areas with crust losses reveal a more compact and less altered amber beneath, and under transmitted light, additional subsurface cracking is visible. The pendant is opaque and yellow-brown in color in ambient light. Under transmitted illumination, it is translucent and dark red-brown. There are no visible inclusions.


The original amber nodule seems to have determined the form of the pendant. The obverse is more convex, the highest point at the bridge of the nose. The reverse is plain and flat. The asymmetrical, triangle-shaped face tapers from a wide brow to a small, pointed chin. The hair and headdress are wide at the base but narrow at the chin. The holes for suspension are located in the top of the headdress on obverse and reverse. When hung, the head exposes its right profile. The brow is flat above the enormous bulbous eyes. Each eyelid is rendered with two filletlike rims that are the same width both above and below the eyes. They meet at both inner and outer canthi. The eyeballs are on the same plane as the eyelids and bulge as in nature. The glabella is wide. Despite the losses to the nose, its form can be discerned as being short and narrow. The upper lip area is also short, and the mouth is small. The lips are rendered as two bars, the upper one set off from the nose by a short groove. Two short vertical grooves, which run from the wings of the nose to the chin line, demarcate the mouth angle furrows. A slight ridge sets off the thick bangs from the brow. The bangs continue from the obverse onto the narrow sides; the pattern of the hair is indicated by fine diagonal grooves fanning out from the center. There are neither ears nor neck indicated on this figure. Atop the head is a headdress separated from the hair by a slight ridge. This headdress is made up of four rounded horizontal fillets.


This pendant has many features in common with (cat. no. 18), (cat. no. 19), (cat. no. 20), and (cat. no. 21). For a discussion of 83.AO.202.18 in relation to related face and complete head-pendants, see the entries for and .