Oinochoe, olpe and chous

  • Oinochoe
  • Olpe
  • Chous

The term oinochoe (pl. oinochoai; Greek oinos - wine and cheo - I pour) is appropriate to this shape and illustrations of it in use, and appears to have been used in antiquity. It is a single-handled vessel, usually taller than it is wide. Beazley identified ten types, based on variations of profile, mouth-type - such as trefoil (like an ivy leaf), round or beaked - and handle-form. One such is the chous (pl. choes), a plump shape with a smooth profile and trefoil mouth. Miniature versions are often found in children's graves, invariably decorated with scenes involving young children. They were probably used in Athens during the Anthesteria. On the second day of the festival, named Choes, the newly-opened wine was drunk.

Athenian black-figure oinochoe
  • Athenian black-figure oinochoe (Type 1) ht. 24.5cm.
Athenian red-figure oinochoe
  • Athenian red-figure oinochoe (Type3 - chous) ht.21.5cm.
Athenian red-figure oinochoe
  • Athenian red-figure oinochoe (Type 8 - mug) ht. 9.5cm.

Attic black-figure olpe (Type 2)
  • Attic black-figure olpe (Type 2) ht. 33cm

The olpe (pl. olpai) is distinguished today from oinochoai. It is tall in relation to its breadth, with a smooth profile and a high handle. Examples occur from early on in black-figure. The name is ancient, but there seems to be little basis for applying it to this particular form. The 'oinochoe of Type 8' may also be called a mug in modern literature, after its spoutless rim and short size, and may have been used for drinking. Like other oinochoe-types, it may also have served as a measure.