Apulia was a region of southern Italy that was famed for its glossy black glazed ware pottery and for its polychromatic decoration – often using shades of white, ochre and red. Apulian vessels were used for sacred ceremonial purposes, rather than everyday tasks. Ceremonial pieces were often placed as offerings in tombs, thus their subject corresponds with the iconography of funerary rituals.
The scene depicted illustrates a symposium, the aristocratic drinking party which found its origin in Classical Greece. In Ancient Greek and Roman society symposia were considered social occasion in which men gathered together to discuss politics, philosophy and art, while enjoying music, dances and, obviously, wine. A variety of drinking vessels was used in Greek and Roman symposia, including kraters like this extraordinary example.
To find out more about different types of Greek vessel please see our relevant blog post: Collecting Greek Vases.