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Greek, Red-Figure Hydria Essay

The Greek red-figure hydria or jar is said to have originated from South Italy, most likely in Apulia Region, a place that is populated by Greek colonists during the fourth century BC. It is dated at around 380-360 BC, the epoch when colonists developed numerous triumphant pottery workshops. The painters and potters then have developed their own styles that are anchored on the techniques learned from the native Greek potters. The ornamentation and decoration of the Greek red-figure hydra is attributed to the painter commonly known as the Painter of Karlsruhe B9, an early painter in the Plain Apulian style.

Figure 1. The Greek, Red-Figure Hydria The Greek red-figure hydria possesses two horizontal handles that are used for lifting the jar and a large vertical handle located at the back that is used for pouring. It is painted with red figures that stand out on its black background. The design on the jar illustrates a young man leaning on a stick and a young woman holding a box. These two are facing each other with a water basin in the middle. The water basin, with a duck swimming on it, has a leg and a base that depict an architectural style.

Normally, that basin, without a duck, is used by the Greeks for ritual cleansing. There is also a window above the duck which represents a plaque that is devoted and offered to the god of the haven. The ground line underneath the figures is adorned and decorated by meander—a continuous line that is shaped into a repeated motif. There are still other elements on the jar such as the cog of a wheel and the plants behind the man and woman; these are incorporated for ornamental reasons and purposes only.

The front base of each handle is painted with rays. The neck of the hydria is decorated with a laurel—a common symbol used in ceremony, representing victory over passion; and its lip or brim is painted with waves. The hydria is frequently used by women in the Greek society. It enables the spectators to have a glimpse of their everyday life—the concept of home and the every day trip to the water well or fountain. This Greek red-figure hydria is a strong proof that the subjects utilized in ceramics are not only confined to gods and heroes.


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