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HOME : Classical Antiquities : Apulian : Apulian Red and White-Figure Hydria
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Apulian Red and White-Figure Hydria - AM.0019
Origin: Mediterranean
Circa: 400 BC to 300 BC
Dimensions: 17.5" (44.5cm) high
Collection: Classical
Medium: Terracotta

Location: UAE
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As the term suggests, hydria vessels were originally designed as water jars with three handles. The vertical handle on the reverse was used for dipping and pouring, whilst the two horizontal handles at the sides were designed for lifting. Despite this practical function, the subject matter of the painted decoration suggests that this vessel may have served a ritual, funereal purpose.

The obverse depicts a female in profile, seated within a white painted ionic naiskos. This temple-like structure with two columns represents a tomb and actually resembles the facades of some of the richer chamber tombs in Apulia. The seated woman represents the deceased and it is thought that the decision to paint such figures in white is an allusion to marble, a material often associated with a commemorative function. In this case this theory is somewhat contradicted by the vitality of the figure, far removed from a lifeless marble statue. Wearing a chiton, she raises a fan in her right hand, whilst her left rests by her side. A fillet is also depicted within this enclosure. The figures outside of the naiskos are depicted in the more customary red-figure technique. On the left, a standing draped female wears a fillet in her hair and holds a mirror in her left hand. On the right is a naked male, leaning against his staff and holding a phiale in his outstretched right hand. The phiale and the mirror presumably represent offerings brought for the benefit of the deceased in the next world.

A design of laurel and bead-and-reed motifs, with a central rosette and dotted ovolo design, encircles the neck. Below the figures is a band of meander motifs. Vertical lines decorate the rim and the handles are surrounded by the tongue pattern. The reverse shows a central palmette complex and a continuation of the laurel and meander motifs. - (AM.0019)


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