White-ground lekythos

  • Collection Number ΚΠ0102
  • Date Classical
    430 b.C.
  • Description A young female holding a basket of offerings visits a grave marked by a stele. The scene is watched by a young man wearing a purple chlamys and a brimmed hat (petasos) on his back. He is holding a spear in the type of the peripolos, a lightly-armed youth doing his military service in the border areas of Attica. White lekythoi appeared around 470 BC and continued to be produced until 400 BC exclusively for funerary use. The white ground was achieved by coating the surface of the vases with a very fine slip of white clay (with kaolin), which took on the distinctive hue after firing. This was a particularly delicate technique that lent itself to decoration with vibrant colours. The iconography of white lekythoi provides important information on the grave monuments of the period, particularly the tall stelai and the columns that marked the graves, like the one depicted here set on a three-stepped crepis and crowned by an Ionic capital and acanthus leaves. Most of the lekythoi with funerary scenes depict relatives of the deceased visiting the grave. The women carried in large panniers the paraphernalia for mortuary cult, such as unguentaria, fillets, wreaths etc. Sometimes there is also a figure beside the grave who observes the events enacted, as in this example. Such figures are considered as portraying the dead.
  • Culture Greek (Attic)
  • Period Classical period
  • Material clay
  • Dimensions H: 28.8 cm
  • Exhbition Gallery 2nd floor / A History in Images
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