Monday, November 17, 2014

Postcards from the Underworld: Loutrophoros


The word loutrophoros means, "to bring a bath." This tall, slender vessel with an egg like body was used both in wedding and funerary rites. Most vessels of this type were made of clay and in antiquity were used on the wedding day to bring a bath to the bride. Others, such as the one shown above, were made of marble and used a grave markers for those who died unmarried. This exquisitely carved example is in the Kerameikos cemetery of Athens. The buildings of the city and the peak of the hill called Lykavittos can be seen in the distance. 

22 comments:

  1. Beautiful. Bathing was quite a ritual in those times.

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    1. Yes it was — for me, bathing is still a ritual!! :))

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  2. the choice was a married woman bath or an unmarried grave?

    i know where i'd want to stand :^)

    love
    kj

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    1. I was struck by this particular view that day - so glad you like it!

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  4. Interesting,as always. The vessel has such graceful curves. It is beautiful.

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    1. I've always admired these vessels - and yes, graceful describes them perfectly.

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  5. The other night in a book I'm reading titled "Leard Ancient Greek" (really!), I learned that the Greek word "cauldron" is "cup" and that "Crater" is a big bucket-like thing for mixing wine and water. Very interesting to learn where our words come from! Now you tell me that "Loutrophoros" is yet another type of vessel. Where does "amphora" fit into all this? (Or is that Latin?) I think I'm going to have to do a google search for "Ancient Greek liquid containers" or something. As always, thanks for the interesting bits of info that I'd otherwise never learn!

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    1. An amphora is a two handled vessel used to store all sorts of goods in antiquity, mostly olive oil, wine and fish sauce. It was used in shipping and often had a pointed foot which fit into the floor of ships so it wouldn't shift around during transit. I looked up the etiology of the word - amphi means both or two (i.e. two handled) and phoros, once again, mean to bear, like in loutrophoros.

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  6. Delightful, as always, Amanda. Your "all things Greek" blog digs up interesting items, right and left. Thanks for sharing them.

    Up here, Persephone has gone underground. Cold and snowy. But I'm accustomed to it, so that is good.

    Blessings and Bear hugs!

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    1. We got a bout of cold and snow this week as well, very early for us 'southerners'!!! but it is already melting away. I imagine your snow up north has stayed put?

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  7. I love the fact that the vessel was used as part of the wedding and for unmarried women's graves. I don't know why, but little details like that fascinate me.

    Unleashing the Dreamworld

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    1. Me too, Crystal. The details of how different cultures operate and their rituals are endlessly fascinating.

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  8. Gorgeous vessel..magical and visually stunning. Wonderful post!
    Victoria

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  9. What was the purpose of the bath? Was it like a baptism?

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    1. I think that would be a pretty good analogy. It was a way of purifying oneself before an important ritual.

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  10. I love how bathing is part of ceremony.

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    1. It is a lovely ritual. (I love bathing, ceremony or no ceremony :))

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  11. I really can't say why, but the image of this vessel makes me a little sad ...

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    1. I completely understand that, sis. There is a loneliness to the image, and the reason for the vessel being there in the first place is very poignant.

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