Olpe

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A Greek vase decorated over the entire exterior surface and base. The interior has been painted in black. The outer decoration is made up of three horizontal registers. The central one shows depictions of five animals in polychromy: a swan, a feline, a wild boar, another animal and a caprid. The free areas around the animals are decorated with rosettes. The lower register shows four felines and a swan, and the upper one, a caprid, a swan and a wild boar. Although the decorations are done in an earthy black colour, the artist has played with two tones, particularly using a maroon colour to create a sense of volume, along with making incisions to show facial details and give clearer anatomical definition. This pictorial characteristis are typical of the Corinthian style. This shape of jug or pitcher without a spout came to be called Olpe, based on the Greek name for such a vessel. It has a high handle and a function similar to that of an oinochoe. It is different to the latter in that it is higher than it is wide, and has a flat lip as compared to the trefoil lip of the oinochoe. The handle often rises characteristically high above the level of the mouth of the recipient. Corinth is a city in the Peloponnese in Greece. It was very prosperous in classical times and one of the most important temples dedicated to Apollo is found there. The denomination, Corinthian vases, has normally been reserved to designated pottery that appeared in the zone in the last decades of the 7th century BC. The Early Corinthian Period, the decades immediately before 600 BC, is a period of great ornamentation in pottery. Alabastrons and other, partially new forms, such as cups with two handles, tripods, round-mouth oinochoes, dishes and column kraters were decorated there. Along with the common animal frieze style (at times alternating with demons, warriors, chariots and horses if the theme was epic) new characteristic figures were added, such as fat-bellied dancers wearing short tunics. Production of this type continued with variation in forms in the Middle and Late Corinthian Periods. The best vases were adorned with narrative scenes whose preferred themes were hunting, battles, banquets, departure to war and the feats of Heracles. In the biggest and most important vases, the light Corinthian clay appears occasionally covered by a red-orange coating, in imitation of the Athenian pottery, and the figures display a very attractive polychrome (black, red, purple, white and yellow as well). The production of Corinthian vases ended around 550 BC and, in consequence, the trade of these vessels around the Mediterranean was taken over by pieces of Attic pottery. Corinthian vases were the object of multiple imitations, not always easily distinguishable. The most numerous group of these is made up of the so-called Italo-Corinthian or Etrusco-Corinthian vases frequently found in Etruscan tombs.

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