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Horse and Rider
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Unknown
Greek, Boeotia, about 550 B.C.
Terracotta
5 in.
82.AD.84

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Thousands of clay figurines like this one survive from the Archaic period, which lasted from 600 to 480 B.C. Clay was a common, inexpensive, and easily worked material, and these figurines--some highly finished and others very crude--must have appealed to a broad range of people.

The rider wears a dotted black chiton, or short tunic. He also wears a wreath in his longish, curly hair. The artisan gave this horseman only a schematic face, with nose and eyes but no mouth. He then decorated the figurine with a clay slip before firing it. After 550 B.C., artisans painted the figurines after firing.

Terracotta figurines were produced throughout Greece, but they were especially popular in certain areas like Boeotia, where this one was made. Horses, with or without riders, were favorite subjects for Boeotian artisans. The figurines were frequently left as burial offerings in graves. Horses were a sign of wealth for the Greeks of this period, and the terracotta horses were probably left to symbolize and to reinforce the high status of the deceased.