Attic Black-Figure Mastos

Object Details


Attic Black-Figure Mastos


Attributed to Psiax (Greek (Attic), active about 525 - 510 B.C.)


Greek (Attic)


Athens, Greece (Place created)


520–500 B.C.



Object Number:



12.1 × 20.5 × 13.3 cm (4 3/4 × 8 1/16 × 5 1/4 in.)

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A young woman plays the double flutes on the front of this black-figure mastos or breast-shaped cup. The other side of the vase depicts a woman flourishing a branch and an ivy sprig. These objects, as well as the nebris or animal skin that she wears over one shoulder, identify this woman as a maenad, a female follower of Dionysos, the god of wine. A Dionysiac interpretation applies also to the flute-girl on the front of the mastos, who might be imagined playing for the god and his entourage, or perhaps for the humans honoring the god at a symposium or drinking party.

A mastos was designed for use at just such a symposium. It was a relatively rare shape produced by Athenian potters only in the later 500s B.C., but fits in well with the erotic pleasures of the symposium. Furthermore, with a nipple instead of a practical base, this vessel could not safely be set down until any wine within was consumed.

by 1979

Private Collection

- 1990

Acanthus Gallery, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1990.


Mertens, Joan R. "Some New Vases by Psiax," Antike Kunst 22 (1979), pp. 22-37, pp. 22-37, pl. 10, 1-4.

"Acquisitions/1990." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 19 (1991), p. 138, no. 13.

Schreiber, Toby. Athenian Vase Construction: A Potter's Analysis (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1999), pl. XVI.