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Water Jar with an Owl
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Attributed to the Group of the Floral Nolans
Greek, Athens, about 480 - 470 B.C.
Terracotta
14 3/16 to 14 1/2 x 11 5/8 in.
86.AE.229

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The owl was the symbol of the city of Athens. On this red-figure kalpis, an owl stands framed by olive branches, each bearing one fruit. This decoration is unusual for a kalpis, yet the image would have been familiar to any Athenian because the owl, shown with one olive branch, had been on the obverse, or front side, of Athenian coins since the late 600s B.C. The owl between olive branches subsequently became a popular motif on skyphoi or cups in Athens in the period around 475 to 425 B.C.

Greeks used the kalpis, a variant form of hydria, for carrying water. The three handles of a hydria were designed to facilitate pouring and lifting. Most vase-painters working in the red-figure technique preferred the rounded form of the kalpis.


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