Vessel, Black-figure pottery kylix, attributed to the Little Masters Workshop

Production date
Circa 550 BCE-525 BCE
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Object detail

Black figure kylix, attributed to the Little Masters Workshop. Reserve band at handles with confronted equestrians. Palmettes support the handles. Narrow reserve band below handles. Inside handles and edge and underside of foot reserved. Interior black glazed with narrow band around rim and roundel with dot and circle in the centre floor. Fractures across bowl and stem repaired black glaze retouched.
CH classification DOMESTIC EQUIPMENT Food & Drink Consumption Crockery cup
CH classification ARCHAEOLOGY Greek
Production date
Circa 550 BCE-525 BCE
Production place
L130mm x W310mm x D232mm
Media/Materials description
History and use
This kylix is a drinking cup, meant for drinking wine, used with the krater. This is a band cup or kylix made in Athens, Greece, between 550-525BC. They are known as band cups for the red band at the level of the handles which depict a range of black figures including scenes of wrestlers and other sporting activities. This example depicts horses with riders, confronting each other. These cups were used as drinking cups and were often used as prizes in athletic contests.

A favourite Greek drinking-game, the Kottabos, was played using such a cup: the diner, holding it in a specific way, flicked drops of wine from the cup into a metal disk, in order to make it fall into another vessel below, producing a ringing sound.

The artist has chosen to decorate the cup in a central band, depicting confronted equestrians. The horses and men’s attire are in opposition, the men mounted on horses or mules, which are about to approach one another. Small touches of white make the piece more active and draw the eye to the main actors, central on the band. In contrast to figures on other vessels, the actors are stiff and formal.

This kylix was made by a group of potters and vase painters known as the ‘Little-Masters’, who produced figures in miniature/small scale, hence the title ‘little’ master. The cups they produced are distinctive as they tend to highlight figures on each side, rather than presenting a story around the whole band. Galloping horses appear frequently in the work of these artists, the horse being a status symbol.
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