Magna Graecian Terracotta Kantharos


A fine Magna Graecian terracotta kantharos featuring a deep cup with a cylindrical foot leading to a slightly concave base. Two large, curving handles are attached from the rim to the lower body. The kantharos has been enriched with a black glaze across the interior, the handles and the foot. The Apulian red figure technique displays a female’s head facing left on both sides. She is adorned with a delicate necklace and an embroidered cap covering her hair painted in white and orange tones. Two white columns frame the piece on either side of the face. Earthly encrustation covers the surface.

Date: Circa 340-320 BC
Provenance: Ex Paris gallery, 2000's, previously from a German auction
Condition: Excellent condition, chip to rim and handle. Dulling of glaze to one side due to age.


SKU: LD-508 Category: Tags: ,

The lustrous black gloss of this vessel indicates that it is from the Apulian region of southern Italy. From the 8th century BC onwards, southern Italy was populated by a vast number of Greek colonies, so much so that the Romans referred to the area as Magna Graecia – ‘Great Greece’. These Greek colonies were instrumental in bringing Greek culture to Italy, greatly influencing Roman literature, philosophy, and material culture in turn. Items from Apulia are characterised by the glossy black glaze covering the dish and by polychromatic pigments of white, ochre, and maroon. Pieces as this fine example are attributed to the Xenon group, a variety of Apulian pottery identifiable by their shape, such as the karanthos, and the decorative motifs rendered in a matte pinkish colour.

‘Kantharoi’ (κάνθαροι) were an ancient Greek drinking vessel, used to hold wine or ritual offerings. They were an attribute of the god of wine, Dionysus, who was also associated with vegetation and fertility. Miniature vessels such as this piece were perhaps meant as votive offerings and are prevalent within the Xenon group.

To find out more about different types of Greek vessel please see our relevant blog post: Collecting Greek Vases.

Weight 413.5 g
Dimensions W 18.3 x H 19.8 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


Reference: For a similar item,The British Museum, item 1772,0320.99

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