Pottery of Ancient Greece

Krater Kylix Oenochoe | Skyphos | Psykter | Kyathos | Rhyton | Kantharos | Ascos
The kantharos (pl. kantharoi) is a deep vessel with two distinctive high handles. The stem of the foot is often tall. The form can be traced back to the eighth century, and kantharoi - perhaps metal versions- are frequently depicted on black- and red-figure vases, held by Dionysos or Herakles. Although the name is ancient (Greek kantharos - dung-beetle), it is not clear how precisely it was connected with this shape, and it seems that kotyle could have been used as well.

In the fourth century, the 'cup kantharos' is common. Its handles project horizontally, and do not return to join the body.

A kantharos (Ancient Greek: κάνθαρος) or cantharus is a type of ancient Greek cup used for drinking. Although almost all surviving examples are in Greek pottery, the shape, like many Greek vessel types, probably originates in metalwork. In its iconic "Type A" form, it is characterized by its deep bowl, tall pedestal foot, and pair of high-swung handles which extend above the lip of the pot. The Greek words kotylos (κότῦλος, masculine) and kotyle (κοτύλη, feminine) are other ancient names for this same shape.

The kantharos is a cup used to hold wine, possibly for drinking or for ritual use or offerings. The kantharos seems to be an attribute of Dionysos, the god of wine, who was associated with vegetation and fertility.

As well as a banqueting cup, they could be used in pagan rituals as a symbol of rebirth or resurrection, the immortality offered by wine, "removing in moments of ecstasy the burden of self-consciousness and elevating man to the rank of deity.

Kantharos Type A
The type A kantharos is distinguished by its high stemmed -foot, which is set off from the bowl by a narrow fillet, and the straight sides of the bowl. The lower part of the bowl, which forms a low shallow curve, is set off from the high straight sides. The high curving handles reach above the level of the lip.

Kantharos Type B
A kantharos whose handles do not reach above the lip. These handles are slightly looped and reach from the lip to the lower part of the bowl. The walls of the bowl tend to have a slightly concave profile and are distinctly set off from a low shallow bowl. The short-stemmed foot is set off from the bowl by a wide fillet.

Kantharos Type C
This kantharos, with its upright vertical handles, has a deep bowl, with the lip and the bowl forming a continuous curve. The high handles, which reach above the level of the lip, turn slightly in towards the lip. The foot is low and has a wide fillet at the join of the stem to the bowl.

Monotos Kantharos

Kantharos with face

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