A beautiful, Greek, black-figure shoulder lekythos with tapering body and small, deep mouth. A single handle joins the narrow neck to the shoulder, and the vessel is finely decorated with glossy black paint. The body of the lekythos is decorated with a symposium scene featuring four black silhouettes, each of whom is wearing a himation. Stylised vine trellises have been rendered through a series of dots, enriching the background of the scene.
Date: 5th - 4th Century BC Condition: Fine condition; signs of ageing and earthy encrustations on the surface; chip to the rim; minor repairs to the handle.
The lekythos was used in ancient Greece to preserve and pour perfumed oil and ointments: its particular shape limited the release of the content, thereby preventing waste and spillage. It often contained olive oil, and was used at baths and gymnasia, as well as for funerary offerings.
A ‘himation’ was a cloak that marked a figure out as a citizen, and would thus have been a prevalent choice of garment for the symposium: a male drinking party, and opportunity to laud one’s status and sophistication. Perhaps this particular lekythos was used at a symposium, with the dining guests seeing and appreciating their own activities reflected in the fine decoration. The scene evokes the Dionysian notions of celebration of life through wine and music.
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