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 their glossy black glaze and by polychromatic pigments of white, ochre, and maroon.
Stands such as this would have been used to hold large bowls, known as a dinos or lebes. They were used specifically to mix water and wine, as it was considered barbaric to consume wine neat and without mixing it. Examples of both the bowl and the stand rarely survive in terracotta however they also influence bronze examples, which are more commonly seen. The name ‘dinos’, is modern terminology, whilst the ancient term would have been a ‘lebes’. The bowl was usually rounded at the base, hence the need for a stand. On vase painting, the ‘lebes’ was shown as a vessel used at symposia.
To discover more on ancient Greek vase shapes, please see our blog post: Collecting Guide: Types of Ancient Greek Vase