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Periods of Ancient Greek Pottery | Types of Greek Vases

Pottery containers decorated on the outside are common in the ancient world. The Greeks, particularly potters in Athens, standardized certain styles, perfected their techniques and painting styles, and sold their wares throughout the Mediterranean. Here are some of the basic types of Greek pottery vases, jugs, and other vessels.

Source: "Attic Red-Figured and White-Ground Pottery," by Mary B. Moore. The Athenian Agora, Vol. 30. (1997)

Patera

Large patera dish; terracotta; c. 340-32 B.C.;  Artist: Patera Painter
Gift of Rebecca Darlington Stoddard, 1913 to the Yale University Art Gallery Accession Number: 1876
A patera was a flat dish used for pouring libations of liquids to the gods.

Pelike (Plural: Pelikai)

Woman and a youth, by the Dijon Painter. Apulian red-figured pelike, c. 370 B.C.
Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons.
Pelike comes from the Red-figure period, with early examples by Euphronios. Like the amphora, the pelike stored wine and oil. From the 5th century, funerary pelikai stored cremated remains. Its appearance is sturdy and practical.

Woman and a youth, by the Dijon Painter. Apulian red-figured pelike, c. 370 B.C. at the British Museum.

Loutrophoros (Plural: Loutrophoroi)

Protoattic loutrophoros,  by the Analatos Painter (?) c. 680 B.C. at the Louvre.
Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons.
Loutrophoroi were tall and slender jars for weddings and funerals, with long, narrow neck, flaring mouth, and flat tops, sometimes with a hole in the bottom. Earliest examples are from the 8th century B.C. Most black figure loutrophoroi are funerary with funerary painting. In the fifth century some vases were painted with battle scenes and others, marriage ceremonies.

Protoattic loutrophoros, by the Analatos Painter (?) c. 680 B.C. at the Louvre.

Stamnos (Plural: Stamnoi)

Odysseus and the Sirens by the Siren Painter. Attic red-figured stamnos, c. 480-470 B.C.
Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons.
Stamnos is a lidded storage jar for liquids that was standardized during the red-figure period. It is glazed inside. It has a short, stout neck, a wide, flat rim, and a straight body that tapers to a base. Horizontal handles are attached to the widest part of the jar.

Odysseus and the Sirens by the Siren Painter (eponymous). Attic red-figured stamnos, c. 480-470 B.C. at the British Museum

Column Kraters

Column Kraters were sturdy, practical jars with a foot, a flat or convex rim, and a handle extending beyond the rim on each side, supported by columns. The earliest column krater comes from the late 7th century or earlier. Column kraters were most popular as black figure in the first half of the 6th century. Early red-figure painters decorated column-kraters.

Corinthian column-krater, c. 600 B.C. at the Louvre.

Volute Kraters

Apulian Red-Figure Volute Krater, c. 330-320 B.C. at the British Museum.
Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons.
The largest of the kraters in canonical form by the late 6th century B.C. Kraters were mixing vessels for mixing wine and water. Volute describes the scrolled handles.

Female head and vine tendril in the Gnathian technique. Apulian red-figured volute-krater, c. 330-320 B.C. British Museum.

Calyx Krater

Dionysos, Ariadne, satyrs and maenads. Side A of an Attic red-figure calyx-krater, c. 400-375 B.C.
Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons
Calyx kraters have flaring walls, and the same type of foot used in the loutrophoros. Like other kraters, the calyx krater is used for mixing wine and water. Euphronios is among the painters of calyx kraters.

Dionysos, Ariadne, satyrs and maenads. Side A of an Attic red-figure calyx-krater, c. 400-375 B.C. From Thebes.

Bell Krater

Hare and Vines. Apulian bell-krater of the Gnathia style, c. 330 B.C. at the British Museum.
Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons.
Shaped like an inverted bell. Not attested before red-figure (like pelike, calyx krater, and psykter).

Hare and Vines. Apulian bell-krater of the Gnathia style, c. 330 B.C. at the British Museum.

Psykter

Warrior's departure. Attic black-figure psykter, c. 525-500 B.C. at the Louvre.
Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons.
Psykter was a wine cooler with a broad bulbous body, a tall cylindrcal stem, and a short neck. Earlier psykters had no handles. Later ones had two small loops on shoulders for carrying and a lid that fits over the psykter's mouth. Filled with wine, it stood in a (calyx) krater of ice or snow.

Warrior's departure. Attic black-figure psykter, c. 525-500 B.C. at the Louvre.

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