Bronze Octopus Cup
gift of: Prof. and Mrs. L.C. Coleman
date: Middle to Late Minoan Period (c. 2200-1500 BC)
description: A two-handled bronze cup with octopus design on body. Bronze-patinated resin replica; bronze original. Height 10 cm, diameter 13 cm.
On this vessel, an octopus is depicted swimming diagonally, with tentacles, rocks and shells filling most empty spaces. The vessel appears to be an alabastron, or ointment jar. (See also: Octopus Stirrup Jar.)
A preference for marine subjects on wall frescoes was in evidence in the Middle Minoan III period at Knossos, on Crete. This subject matter had little influence on vase painting until the Late Minoan 1B phase, though it is evidenced on other media such as exquisite steatite vessels, dating to the Middle Minoan III period.
In line with the intaglios and reliefs executed on these steatite vessels come various marine designs taken over into repousse metalwork, as seen on this bronze vessel.