Height: 29.600 cm
Gift of the Byzantine Research Fund
Room 66: Ethiopia and Egypt
Pottery jug in human form
From the Coptic town of Wadi Sarga,
Coptic period, 5th to 7th century AD
A jug with a face
The pale colour of this anthropomorphic (that is, in human form) vessel indicates that it was made from the marl clays of the desert rather than the silts of the Nile valley. Like most of the pottery of the Coptic period, it was wheel-made, with the decoration applied after the basic form was achieved. Although fairly coarse, this vessel would have been a suitable, if quirky, item for household use.
The decoration is unusual in combining applied, incised and painted techniques. The neck of the vessel has a face on either side. Clay has been added to the surface of the vessel, moulded to give a stylized male face. Details of the eyelids and hair have been painted in black using a striped and cross-hatched design. The edge of the face, brows, mouth and nose are highlighted in red. These colours are often used together in the decoration of Coptic pottery.
The surface of the body of the vessel is covered with incised decoration, both above and below the undulating 'pie-crust' shoulder. The geometric pattern focuses on a concentric rhomboid (a shape with unequal sides) design in the centre below the face, flanked by long diagonal lines. Four orange bands were added around the circumference of the vessel after the incisions had been made.