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Mastoid (Drinking Cup)

Black terracotta vessel, narrow at the bottom and wider at top, with a short lip, featuring a wide red band in the middle. This band depicts in black a procession of figures surrounded by vines, including a person on a donkey.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • Black terracotta vessel, narrow at the bottom and wider at top, with a short lip, featuring a wide red band in the middle. This band depicts in black a procession of figures surrounded by vines, including a person on a donkey.

Date:

500-480 BCE

Artist:

Attributed to the Leafless Group
Greek; Athens

About this artwork

This cup was shaped to fit easily in the drinkers hand, and was likely used as part of the Greek symposium. Much like modern academic symposiums, in which people discuss a topic of common interest, debunking old theories and putting forth new hypotheses; the men of ancient Athens regularly got together in private homes to exchange ideas. Afterward the participants might continue the conversation, discussing their impressions in greater detail or simply socializing over a drink. As the evening progressed, participants engaged in other pleasures, including games, performances, and sex. Wine played a major role in fueling these evenings, and as such the myriad vessels used in the symposium often paid homage to drink.

Here, the god of wine Dionysos rides astride a donkey. Before and behind him satyrs - the gods half man half goat companions - are visually aroused by the scene; while a Maenad - their female counterpart - leads the procession while strumming a lyre. The background of this scene is decorated with winding vines, enforcing the themes of wine, revelry and music.

Currently Off View

Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium

Artist

Leafless Group

Title

Mastoid (Drinking Cup)

Origin

Italy

Date

Made 500 BCE–480 BCE

Medium

terracotta, decorated in the black-figure technique

Dimensions

9.2 × 10.8 × 10.8 cm (3 5/8 × 4 1/4 × 4 1/4 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Philip D. Armour and Charles L. Hutchinson

Reference Number

1889.10

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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