DRINK AND BE MERRY
IN ANCIENT ROM
The Dionysia or Bacchanalia were ecstatic festivals celebrating the god and the fertility cult, frequently heightened through alcohol or hallucinogenic fungi. Although basically adopted from Greece, the tradition of the spring festival combined Roman religious and Etruscan cultural elements. Every year, this exceptional period of festivity certainly brought many Romans great pleasure, similar in some respects to Carnival celebrations today. The ‘imported’ festival, therefore, enjoyed considerable popularity.
PRESENT OF THE NATURE
Plants and mushrooms, the consumption of which induced a state of ecstasy, played an important role in furthering the development of certain religions in a number of different societies worldwide. The first indications of the use of psychoactive fungi can be found in rock drawings (c. 5000 BC) on the Tassili plateau in present-day Algeria that show deities with mushrooms. Germanic peoples, for example, consumed the fly agaric species of fungi before communicating with their ancestors and spirits. The correct dose, however, certainly played an existential role.
Enamel is the name given to a material generally made of silicates (powdered glass) and oxides (pigments) that are applied to a substrate and melted at a high temperature over a short firing period. Over the course of the centuries, craftsmen developed a variety of different techniques and produced works of high artistic quality. The so-called émail peint technique – painted enamel – is typical of the Renaissance. Our decorative vessel is a prime example of the mastery of this process.