The original doll belonged to a young woman
named Crepereia Tryphaena who lived in Rome in the second
century. She was engaged to be married but had the sad fate of
dying just before her wedding at the age of 20. She was buried
on the bank of the river Tiber in a marble sarcophagus which was
discovered and opened in 1889 when the Hall of Justice was being
Alongside the girl in the sarcophagus was an
ivory doll, probably with a symbolic function. At the time,
custom was for brides-to-be to sacrifice the dolls from their
childhood to Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, on their
wedding day to symbolize the entering into the life of a wife
and that their virginity would end. Poor Crepereia Tryphaena,
never completed the Venus sacrifice, instead the doll joined her
mistress in the grave.
Today, the ancient doll is kept in the Musei
Capitolini in Rome but is not on display. It is of extraordinary
artistic and handcrafted quality and was probably dressed in
clothes, but these have disintegrated over the years. Her hair
style is according to common hair-does in Rome in the second
Our replica doll has been given the name
Livia which was a favored name during the imperial time. She is
clothed in a simple, short linen tunic common for everyday use
inside the house. In addition, she wears a “stola”, a long dress
in cotton for use outside the house. For cool days, she has a
“palla” in wool, a rectangular drape worn over the shoulders.
She also has a few jewelries such as a necklace and a bracelet.
Her skin is rather white as ladies of her social standing tended
to avoid sunshine.
Permission to reproduce the Crepereia Tryphaena doll has been
obtained from the Musei Capitolini in Rome.
Advice given by the
Historical museum in Oslo.