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Chryselephantīna

(sc. ἀγάλματα). This term, though resting on no better authority than that of the Scholiast on Aristophanes ( Eq. 1169), is now customarily used to denote those gold and ivory statues which were the highest attainments of Greek plastic art.

The use of these costly materials seems to have been originally a development of the early art of wood-carving. The first artists who produced chryselephantine statues were pupils of Dipoenus and Scyllis, the Cretan “Daedalids.” Though we hear of no such works by these masters themselves, they used ivory in conjunction with ebony (Pausan. ii. 22, 5); by gilding the wood, a quite common proceeding, the transition would be made. The appropriateness of the two materials would then suggest the restriction of the ivory to nude parts, of gold to drapery, etc., a core of wood still underlying the whole. Such, probably, were the works of Doryclidas, Theocles, Dontas, and other artists of the earlier portion of the sixth century B.C. We do not hear of many chryselephantine works of importance during the late archaic or transitional period. The construction of colossal figures, such as the Olympian Zeus and the Athené Parthenos of Phidias, or the Argive Heré of Polycletus, can have had little in common with mere wood-carving. For these, of course, a most elaborate internal framework was necessary. See Colossus.

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