1965 - 1983
1983 - 1986
Mary S. Bareiss 1983 Trust, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1986.
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Currently on view at: Getty Villa, Gallery 113, Neolithic and Bronze Age Greece
Miniature Stirrup Jar
Greece (Place Created)
about 1130–1100 B.C.
7.2 × 5.9 cm (2 13/16 × 2 5/16 in.)
A stylized octopus covers the surface of this Mycenaean stirrup jar, named so for the shape of its handles. Influenced by the Minoan styles on Crete, Mycenaean potters often decorated their wares with motifs of marine life. Although these renderings were initially very naturalistic, they became more stylized over the centuries, until the creatures became so abstract as to be unrecognizable. The octopus on this vase has no body, only six tentacles, and the eyes have been transformed into two rosettes near the base of the jar.
By the end of the Bronze Age, after about 1100 B.C., the power of the Mycenaean kingdoms had collapsed, but elements of Mycenaean culture continued, with artists trying to carry on earlier traditions. Without a unifying power, the widely spread Mycenaean settlements developed independent regional styles of pottery. The degenerate octopus style decorating this vase is characteristic of the Greek islands. Stirrup jars were used for the storage and shipping of liquids, and a small example like this one probably held perfumed oil.
"Acquisitions/1986." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 15 (1987), pp. 160-61, no. 7.