Monday, May 10, 2021

Archaic Period Horse Sculptures

 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. Thousands of clay figurines like this one survive from the Archaic period (600 to 480 BCE).

"Horses played a central role in the great civic festivals in the ancient world, such as the Panathenaic Games in Athens and the Olympic games at Olympos, where they took part in chariot races and single horse races. The horse’s long affiliation with gods and heroes in Greek mythology no doubt also fostered a special respect and admiration for this remarkable creature in the minds of “ordinary” Greeks. In Homer’s Iliad, horses drive the chariots of the heroes and are praised for their swiftness and beautiful coats. They are often depicted as having special relationships with their owners, like Achilles and his immortal horses, Balius and Xanthus.  In the Iliad, it is told how, when Patroclus was killed in battle, Xanthus and Balius stood motionless on the field of battle, and wept, yet when Achilles rebuked Xanthus for letting Patroklus get slain, Hera granted the horse human speech to deliver to Achilles a warning about his own fate." - Stasahatzoglou, The significance of the horse in ancient Greece.

Terracotta horse and rider, Greek, Boeotian, about 550 BCE, courtesy of the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, California.

Archaeic Period Horse and Rider from Cyprus, 700 BCE 

Pyxis Lid with Three Horses Greek made in Boeotia 760-750 BCE Terracotta that I photographed at the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, California

Terracotta horse with warrior rider Cypriot Cypro-Archaic I-II 600 BCE said to be from the temple of Apollo Hylates at Kourion that I photographed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Terracotta wheeled horse thought to be a toy Cypriot Cypro-Archaic 6th century BCE that I photographed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

A BOEOTIAN TERRACOTTA HORSE AND RIDER, 575-550 BCE,  courtesy of Christies

Greek Horse and Rider 6th century BCE Terracotta with slip decoration courtesy of The Barnes Foundation

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