Itinerary B
Piazza Armerina

[3] A multifaceted nature among hunting tools

The refinement of the clothes covering the female figure depicted in the north apse seems to visibly evoke their texture. The woman, in a standing position, is identified as the personification of Mauritania. She wears a rosy chiton and carries a pardalis on her shoulders, fixed to her chest with a large, gold buckle decorated with a shiny precious stone. A succession of dense woody plants with leaves covered in whitish tones, perhaps due to the deposit of salt crystals, forms the backdrop. As we look further ahead, the landscape becomes more deserted and seems to be inhabited by a small, scattered vegetation cover and by smooth rocks shaped by the warm gusts of African wind. Even the wooden crates containing the captured animals are overheated by the intense sunlight, making it necessary to speed up the loading operations at the nearest port. A group of military hunters pull the ropes that drag the animals on board, their strength deriving from the natural fibres of which they are made, able to withstand the effort required to reach the ship. It stands out amidst the sparkling waters of the port, emanating blinding reflections from the metal parts that protect its hull. Further on, in an eastern landscape alternating between small dwellings and rocks dotted with a few shrubs, against a hilly backdrop of tall trees, a tiger chases a glass sphere reflecting its image. The animal is the victim of a daring scheme to snatch her cub, now held by a soldier on horseback. The steed, shown in a powerful race, crosses a walkway made of wooden planks that absorb the clatter of its hooves. The dark-skinned young woman, who occupies the floor mosaic of the south apse, is adorned with armillas and a torque with a pendant placed in the middle of her neck. A pinkish drape, of a light and transparent texture, descends from her waist to envelop her legs. She is surrounded by a wrinkled-skinned elephant and a tiger with a soft coat, evoking distant lands touched by the echo of imperial exploits.