Fineware cup with frogs

From Faras, Sudan
Meroitic Period, 1st to 2nd century AD

Decorated with frogs and lotus flowers painted in black

The fineware pottery produced by Meroitic craftsmen is extremely striking. The range of wheel-made vessels consists of bowls, jars and cups. Their characteristically pale cream colour and extremely thin walls give them the appearance of eggshells.

The vessels could be impressed with small ornamental stamps or painted in red and black with a variety of motifs. Some artists found inspiration in familiar Egyptian symbols like the ankh. The geometric style and other elements of decoration, such as frogs, crocodiles, giraffes and fantastic beasts, came from Mediterranean traditions. Highly stylized floral motifs, such as the lotus flowers at the feet of each frog on this example, were also popular. These were more geometric in style than in the Egyptian artistic tradition.

The great variety of decoration used by Meroitic potters makes it difficult to date individual vessels. Several schools of painting style have been distinguished. Identifying individual painters by their techniques and favoured motifs has even been possible. However, these craftsmen remain anonymous as they never signed their work.

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More information

Bibliography

J.H. Taylor, Egypt and Nubia (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)

S. Quirke and A.J. Spencer, The British Museum book of anc (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)

Dimensions

Height: 7.600 cm
Diameter: 9.500 cm

Museum number

EA 51448

YCA64461

Gift of Oxford University

Location

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