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Wine Cup with Eyes
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Attributed to the Phineus Painter
Greek, Rhegion, South Italy, about 520 B.C.
Terracotta
4 3/16 x 13 13/16 x 10 1/4 in.
86.AE.50

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Eyes, ears and a nose forming a face decorate each side of this Greek cup. The cup itself has a distinctive form with a deep bowl, a large foot with a tall, concave profile, and a thick ring joining the foot and the bowl. Scholars refer to cups with this combination of form and decoration as Chalkidian cups. The strikingly angular form of the foot has led some scholars to believe that the shape of the cup may have been derived from metal prototypes. Eyes decorate the exterior of all Chalkidian cups. In Greek thought, large, staring eyes had an apotropaic power, that is, they had the ability to ward off evil and danger. The painted eyes on this cup may have protected the drinker, or the frontal face may have represented an abbreviated mask connected with Dionysos, the god of wine.

Scholars do not know precisely where Chalkidian pottery was made. Inscriptions on some vases have letters in the alphabet of the city of Chalkis in Greece, but no vases have been found there, or anywhere outside Italy and the western Mediterranean. The vases were probably made in a Chalkidian colony in southern Italy or in an immigrant workshop in Etruria.