The precise function of early vessels like this one is unknown. However, by the sixth century B.C., similar objects were represented as banqueting vessels with wine or some other drink being ladled from them. Interestingly, the decorative patterns on the lower portion of this example are precisely paralleled on contemporaneous bronze shields.
Richter, Gisela M. A. 1940. Handbook of the Etruscan Collection. p. 2, fig. 1, New York: Marchbanks Press.
de Puma, Richard Daniel. 2013. Etruscan Art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. no. 3.21, p. 39, New Haven and London: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.