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Kantharos



A footed bowl with two high-curving vertical handles set on each side.

Shape: The handles usually curve above the level of the lip and sometimes with an inward curl towards the lip. The lip and the bowl form a continuous curve, and the bowl is usually set off from the tall-stemmed foot. Of the four major types, type A is has been illustrated (see Illustration).

History: The shape is not common in Athenian black-figure, and is more often seen held by Dionysos in representations on vases. There are several variations within this type of cup. The immediate origin of the kantharos is not clear, but it has a long and early history in Boeotia. In its early development it is closely related to the cup. The Protogeometric kantharos has low handles and a conical foot. During the Geometric period this foot is rejected in favor of a tall stem. At this time the handles rise above the lip. The characteristic shape first appears in Etruscan bucchero in the late seventh or early sixth century B.C. It is then adopted by Attic and Boeotian potters and undergoes refinements in their hands. Its shape continues to be popular down to the period of the later Apulian wares, as well as the black-painted wares of the fourth and third century.

Term: The word kantharos means "dung beetle"; it also was the name used to describe a cup of this shape in ancient times: Athenaios, 11.473d lists the kantharos among the drinking cups and describes it as resting on "a thin-stemmed, broad-based foot."

  • Athenaios, 11.473d




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