Height: 21.500 cm
GR 1873.8-20.304 (Vases D 13)
Room 69: Greek and Roman life
White-ground jug, attributed to the Brygos Painter
Greek, around 490 BC
Made in Athens, Greece; said to be from Locri, Calabria, southern Italy
Spinning the thread of fate?
The finely-dressed woman on this vase is shown in the act of spinning woollen thread. In her raised left hand she holds a distaff on to which clumps of red wool have been pushed. With her right hand, she draws out a strand of wool, the end of which is attached to a hook at the top of the weighted spindle. At the same time she keeps the spindle spinning, so that the strand twists to form a strong thread. As the thread lengthens, the spindle sinks nearer and nearer to the ground. When it touches, the she will have to stop, wind the thread around the spindle, and start again.
Spinning wool and weaving cloth for the family were the principal activities of Athenian women and girls. This vase is said to have been found in a tomb; if it were that of a woman, it could have formed a fitting tribute to her domestic skills.
represents an early and extremely successful experiment in the
technique of painting in outline on a white ground. The Brygos
Painter worked chiefly in
R. Woff, Bright-eyed Athena (London, 1999)
M. Robertson, The art of vase-painting in Cl (Cambridge, 1992)
J. Boardman, Athenian red figure vases: the (London, Thames and Hudson, 1975)
D. Williams, Greek vases (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)