Psykter

Greek (Attic), c525 – 500 BC

Earthenware with black-figure decoration 33.5 x dia. 25cm
Accession Number LL5034

Psykter, Greek (Attic)

The black-figure technique, of which this is a fine example, was adopted in Corinth in the early 7th century BC and in Athens by the 630s. The decoration is in black pigment applied to the red earthenware body. The details are incised through the pigment to show up in red.

This vase is painted with a Dionysian revel: a dance of Maenads (the female companions of Dionysus) being rudely interrupted by lusty satyrs. The central figure is probably Dionysus himself, the god of wine and song.

The decoration is appropriate to this vessel’s function as a wine cooler. Wine was placed in the psykter itself, which in turn stood in a wide vessel filled with ice or cold water. This shape was only in fashion between about 525 and 475 BC.