Oinochoe

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A ceramic vase which by its shape can be identified as an oinochoe. It has a trefoil mouth from which a high curved handle projects and ends at the back of the vase. As the words oinos (wine) and choes (jug) imply, this vessel was used to serve wine and, for this reason, it always had a wide body and a wide mouth with a vertical handle. The woman’s head, made in a mould, served as the body and the foot of the oinochoe.

There is a pictorial scene with a black figure on the front of the body of the vase framed on a square with a clay-red background. The figure is of a satyr in a position suggesting movement. The left leg is in front of the right one and the knees are bent. Both arms are stretched out forward with open palms and the head is turned, looking backwards. It appears as if he may be running after a nymph, a common activity for one of these creatures. The detail on the face lets us observe his pointed ears and thick beard. Four vegetal fronds of ivy or some other plant seem to spring from or meet up at the back of his head.

Satyrs were male creatures in Greek mythology who accompanied Pan and Dionysus, roaming around the woods and mountains. They are associated with sexual appetite. The painters of ceramic vases often depicted them alongside nymphs and maenads, sometimes with perpetual erections.

The technique of black-figure painting was based on the use of a transparent slip which, on firing, acquired an intense brilliant black tone. As the motifs were not visible before the firing, the painters had to work completely from memory without seeing their earlier work. When the piece was fired the zones not covered by the glossy slip maintained the reddish tone of the clay vessel while the glazed, “painted” areas took on a dense and brilliant black tone. The black-figure technique was introduced into Corinth around 700 B.C. and was adopted by Attic artists in the orientalizing period (725-625 BCE). At that time the great series of black-figure vase painting began which had its main centre in Athens and continued until the beginning of the 5th Century BC.

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