Woman/Maiden Alabastron

Transitional Greek (White-Ground Pottery)

replica: from World Treasures, California

date of the original: c. 480 BC

provenance of the original: now in the National Archaeological Museum, Athens

description: White ground, black figure alabastron (perfume bottle). Short neck, flat brim, cylindrical and pear shaped. Shows two women, one dancing, one seated. Black neck with narrow geometric pattern, repeated on base. Pottery replica; pottery original. Height 17.5 cm, diameter 6.5 cm.

Frequently pottery displayed members of society engaging in their traditional roles. For women this usually meant weaving or spinning, the only variation being war scenes involving the Amazons. Women were considered the more delicate gender in Greek society, and the fine illustration of the white-ground technique leant itself to depictions of fair women.

White-ground also allowed the use of colours not used before in pottery painting, and finer drawing which was achieved by applying white paint over a black glaze and incising the lines to outline the figure.

(See also: Maiden/Muse Lekythos; Lebes Gamikos.)