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Work Amphora with trifid neck and handles

Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: Archaic Greek Art (7th-6th centuries BC)


© 1993 RMN / Hervé Lewandowski

Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
Archaic Greek Art (7th-6th centuries BC)

Alexandra Kardianou-Michel

Fikellura vases were made in a distinct group of eastern Greek or Ionian workshops. Their style is a derivation of the Wild Goat style, which has its origins in the same region, and they are most commonly found in the form of broad, squat amphorae with pronounced shoulders. The figure of a running man with the head of a hare on this example is one of several curious motifs in the Fikellura painters' repertoire.

Ionian workshops

The production centres known as the Ionian workshops are in fact made up of a patchwork of different tendencies, styles and types, with certain features in common and specific variations. One of these sub-groups consists of vases doubtless made in Miletos in Asia Minor, but referred to as "Fikellura" after a site on the island of Rhodes where large numbers of them have been found.
Fikellura vases are often entirely covered with wavy lines, palmettes, plant motifs, crescents, interwoven patterns and traceries, but may also feature one or more figures with very little secondary decoration. The style is a derivation of the Wild Goat style, and reached its height between 560 BCE and the end of the sixth century BC, when it yielded to competition from the Attic style.

Fikellura vases

Fikellura amphorae are mostly squat and round-bellied, with pronounced shoulders, although a number of stamnoi and cups have also been found. The decorative motifs used on the peripheral areas of the surface are broadly similar: wavy lines or intertwining cable patterns at the mouth, and dots on the handles. The base of the body is sometimes left plain, but may also feature zones decorated with hatched lines or crescent motifs. The low, wide foot is painted black. Ornamentation on the central surface of the pot is more inventive, doubtless due to Athenian influence.
This vase is an example of the second, more original, type of decoration found at Fikellura: the body is undecorated apart from palmettes and foliate motifs framing the mysterious, isolated central figure.

Human and animal figures

The bodies of early amphorae are often decorated with animal and bird motifs, drawn in dark pigment with details that appear to have been incised into the silhouette, but which are in fact left unpainted. Human figures are also common, often drawn with great originality and invention, including dancers at a banquet, dwarfs wrestling, satyrs and maenads, and the Egyptian king Busiris. The running man with the head of a hare, seen here, is not the only curiosity in the Fikellura vase-painters' repertoire. Winged men with human or canine heads are also common, although it is unclear whether these were intended as humorous grotesques, images of demons or ceremonial costumes.


Martine Denoyelle, Chefs-d'oeuvre de la céramique grecque dans les collections du Louvre, 1994, Réunion des musées nationaux, p. 28, no 9
R.M. Cook, Greek Painted Pottery, 1997
John Boardman, Early Greek Vase Painting, 1999, Thames & Hudson

Technical description

  • Groupe de l'Homme Courant


    Vers 550 - 540 avant J.-C.

    Provenance : Camiros (Rhodes)

    Milet ? Rhodes ?

  • H. : 40 cm. ; D. : 32,30 cm.

  • Collection Salzmann, 1863 , 1863

    A 330

  • Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities

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