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Painted terracotta head from a statue of a worshipper


Height: 36.000 cm

GR 1910.6-20.1

Room 72: Ancient Cyprus

    Painted terracotta head from a statue of a worshipper

    From the Sanctuary of Apollo at Phrangissa, Tamassos, Cyprus
    About 600 BC

    A head in true Cypriot style

    This head is in true Cypriot style with an Assyrian type beard, wide open eyes, a severe expression and prominent nose. A number of other male heads have Assyrian style beards like this one - hardly surprising as Cyprus was under Assyrian control from about 707-612 BC. The tallest of these large-scale terracotta statues discovered so far measures 260 cm in height and comes from the same site as this head: the Sanctuary of Apollo at Phrangissa, Tamassos on the island of Cyprus.

    The first large-scale statues of terracotta in Cypriot style are recorded from the island of Samos in the middle of the seventh century BC. They were first produced in Cyprus in the later seventh century BC. The statues continued to be made into the sixth century, though production had ceased by about 550 BC when sculpture in stone became more popular. The city of Salamis may have led the way in the creation and diffusion of this terracotta art to other parts of the island, but finds from the site at Tamassos are impressive.

    All Cypriot large-scale terracotta statues were assembled from several separate pieces made by different techniques. Bodies were thrown on a potter's wheel; those of larger figures were made in two parts and assembled after firing. Legs were hollow and either handmade or made of clay coils; sometimes legs were wheel-made. Arms were either handmade and solid or wheel-made and hollow. Heads were normally hollow and turned on a wheel or made of coils; the faces were moulded. Accessories such as jewellery and beards were added and facial features formed. The figure was painted as required before being fired.

    V. Karageorghis, The coroplastic art of ancie-1 (Nicosia, A.G. Leventis Foundation, 1993)

    V. Tatton-Brown, Ancient Cyprus, 2nd ed. (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)

    A. Hermary, 'Les débuts de la grande plastique chypriote en terre cuite' in Cypriote terracottas: Proceedi (A.G. Leventis Foundation Vrije Universiteit Brussel-Universite de Liege, 1991)


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    On display: Room 72: Ancient Cyprus

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