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Ancient Greek Pottery Designs

Updated on December 14, 2017
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Ancient art and architecture isn't only for historians, but for people like us who’ve always been interested in anything olden and periodic.

Greek pottery is one of the most fascinating and probably the oldest of the Greek minor arts and their handmade ceramic art includes versatile jars, vases and clay pots.

Some of the earliest applications of the 'laws of unity' and the proportional relationship of pure Greek designs of ancient antiquity are seen through the pottery designs and inscriptions of these art pieces.

Pottery from ancient Greece came with exquisite and illustrative motifs, the designs of which serve to inform today's generation of their diverse but interesting customs. With subject matter that was both ornamental and educational, the motifs had themes that were meant to communicate some form of knowledge and were an expedient and unique method to educate their youth.

The inscriptions depicted life, its realities, and its daily happenings. Scenes of every possible event in the life of the citizens including the legends of the deities were etched into their clay pottery works.

Motifs indicated sporting events such as races, wrestling, ball games, agriculture and harvesting, basket weaving, cooking and baking. These actions were all indicated in ways to show the right methods of how to achieve tasks and how thing should be properly done.

Lebes - Used during marriage ceremonies
Lebes - Used during marriage ceremonies

Ancient Greek Arts Educational Benefits

Young boys were taught how to use armour, spears, shields and the likes from the inscriptions on the pottery, and religious functions like alter and funerary ceremonies, hunting scenes and races (chariots) were intricately and beautifully represented.

And for young lovers, the designs showed them the right methods of their display of affection.

Pottery Types and Designs

The beautiful relics of ancient Greek pots, jars and vases were common in every household, and were used for functions such as drinking, storing and pouring. There were six basic shapes and sizes:

  • Oinochoe: a wine pitcher with one handle.
  • Hydria: a Greek water jar, formed with three handles, and used for pouring or carrying liquid.
  • Amphora: a large two handled pottery vessel with a cover, and was used for grain storage.
  • Kylix: a flat shaped drinking cup set on a slim centre pedestal, and the stem less Kylix with a flat base
  • Krater: with spiral scroll like forms as is found in their Iconic capitals. It was used for mixing.
  • Lekythos: narrow necked and long flask used for pouring oil.

The potters’ wheel was used extensively, but while the forms were chosen by each individual potter, they still followed the lines of curved silhouettes which were always ovoid in shapes, and followed the general changing degrees of curvature associated with mathematics.

Shapes formed were practical and very functional for their intended use, with their handles designed and sited for convenience of use, and in perfect proportions with the vessel silhouette.

Greek pottery was technically perfect in their designs and modelling, and with archaeological finds and art history records, there is much evidence to show that their artworks must have required extraordinary concentration, good eyesight, with a deft and sensitive hand to produce the perfection of their delineation.

Hydria - Water carrying jars
Hydria - Water carrying jars
Oenochoe - Single handle water pitcher
Oenochoe - Single handle water pitcher
Amphora - Grain storing clay pots
Amphora - Grain storing clay pots
Kylix - Drinking cups
Kylix - Drinking cups

How Greek Arts Influenced Other Civilisations

There is hardly and nation or race that has had an influence on western civilization than the ancient Greek has.

From architecture to literature, sculpturing and Greek pottery, this influence has rarely been equaled or surpassed, and their art works have stood as models of excellence for hundreds of years, and even up to this present day.

© 2011 artsofthetimes


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