The Freud Museum

Column Krater

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4393, Column Krater, c. 330 BC

Artist: Photographer: Ardon Bar Hama
Culture: Apulia, South Italy
Material: Ceramic
Dimensions: 46 x 37cm

This red-figured Column Krater is from Apulia in southern Italy. A Column Krater is a large bowl for mixing wine and water. Both the Greeks and the Romans mixed their wine with water: it was regarded as the mark of a barbarian to drink wine neat.

During the 5th century BC., during the decline of Athenian vase exports, Greek potters emigrated to the Greek colonies in southern Italy and Sicily, an area often known as 'Magna Graecia' [Great Greece]. Ceramic production was very popular and the manufacture of Southern Italian vases reached its zenith between 350-320 BC.

This may be a wedding scene with Eros representing the husband of the bride. Eros is shown carrying a firebrand, his traditional symbol to inflame the heart with love. In his right hand, he carries a bucket to douse the fire. On the firebrand is an olive wreath worn by brides in ancient Greece. His decorative headdress, longish hair and slightly feminised body, with small breasts and penis, give him a somewhat androgynous appearance. The bride also wears a headdress plus earrings and a necklace. The folds of her robe are beautifully rendered. Above the bride's right hand is a mirror and a cista (a casket for holding jewels and perfumes) and, below her hand, a tambourine. In her left hand, she holds a thyrsus, associated with Dionysus, and with the maenads, his priestesses, who carried it during their drunken revelries in honour of the god. A thyrsus is a giant fennel stalk topped with a pine cone, a ceremonial phallic symbol of fertility.

See this object on our Collections site here 

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