Top, with scales

Left side, with palmettes

Right side, with maeanders

Palmettes and woman, head


Collection: Cambridge, Harvard University Art Museums
Summary: Plastic woman's head; meanders, palmettes, scale-pattern.
Ware: Attic Black Figure
Painter: Attributed to the Sappho Painter
Context: Said to have been found in 1939 near Athens
Date: ca. 490 BC - ca. 480 BC

L. 0.248 m.

Shape: Epinetron
Region: Attica
Period: Late Archaic


Broken and repaired. The woman's nose is missing.

Decoration Description:

The lower edges of the long sides of the semi-cylinder are decorated on one side with key-pattern, on the other with seven black palmettes linked by tendrils. Eight more palmettes surround the mold-made female bust on the front, above whom arches a band of key-pattern. The top and most of the sides of the cylinder are covered with scale-pattern, consisting of multiple U-shaped impressions, stamped into the clay when wet and painted black. The woman wears a sphendone; the top of the hair and of the sphendone are black, but the rest of the hair, face, and bust are unpainted. The woman's hair is pulled back at the temples; she apparently wears a chiton or peplos.

Shape Description:

Hollow semi-cylinder with one end open, the other closed by a circular disk, on the exterior of which is a mold-made head of a woman. The body constitutes slightly more than half a cylinder and widens slightly at the open end, tapering upward and outward. There are two suspension holes below the woman's bust. The Epinetron shape is sometimes mistakenly called an onos, particularly in older publications, including Beazley. The name refers to the fact that it was placed on the knee of a seated woman, who would rub wool against its scaly surface to separate the fibers before placing them on the distaff. It is shown in use by a woman painted on an (unpublished?) example in Athens (Athens, NM 2179). The shape, although uncommon, continued until the late 5th century, when the plastic bust may be larger and the decoration considerably more elaborate; e.g. Athens 1629, by the Eretria Painter (ARV2, 1250, 34).

Collection History:

Bequest of David M. Robinson.

Sources Used:

Robinson, AJA 49 (1945) 480-90.

Other Bibliography:

D. M. Robinson, "A New Attic Onos or Epinetron," AJA 49 (1945) 480-90; Robinson exhibition catalogue 1961, no. 88.