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HOME : Classical Antiquities : Daunian : Daunian Terracotta Sphageion Olla
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Daunian Terracotta Sphageion Olla - PF.5372
Origin: Magna Graecia
Circa: 350 BC to 250 BC
Dimensions: 8" (20.3cm) high
Collection: Classical
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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The profile of this olla, or jug, is characterized by a tall, wide funnel-like mouth, the diameter of which is equal to the greatest diameter of the vessel itself when measured around its belly. Such a vessel is suggested to have been used as a sphageion for the collection of blood ritually let during sacrifices. The outside of the mouth is decorated with floral motifs populated by birds, its interior by sweeping linear ornament which is separated by stylized palmette-like motifs. The body of the vessel itself is decorated with seven registers of floral motifs, separated the one from the other by a series of three concentric lines, with a Greek key, or meander pattern at the top, and a lively, Hellenistic-style ivy pattern in the third register. In keeping with vessels of this classification, there is an interest in the handles which are loop-shaped and provided with adjuncts which appear to represent fingers of a human hand.

Such vessels were created in South Italy in a region recently designated Iapyges, which occupies the territory from the “heel” of the Italian peninsula to as far north as the latitude of Naples. One of the principal cities of this region is Canosa, famed for its innovative approach to both terracotta figurines and pottery vessels, such as this wonderful example.

Often termed “Daunian ware,” vessels of this type are only now coming into their own among serious collectors of ancient art. The profusion of floral motifs on these examples and their minimalist palette resonate with contemporary aesthetic sensibilities and account for the growing popularity of these vases among collectors.

References: Jacques Camay and Chantal Courtois, L’art premier des Iapyges (Geneva 2002), for the most recent assessment of this classification of pottery and in particular pages 122-125, for two examples which are particularly close to our olla.
- (PF.5372)


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