Drawing of alabastronThe alabastron (pl. alabastra) is a long-bodied vessel, with a flat disk for the mouth and a rounded bottom. It is handleless, although some examples have eyes or lugs by which thread could be attached. The shape has a long history in Corinth, but is only preserved in Athenian pottery from the mid-sixth century. Examples of the shape have been found in a range of materials, including alabaster. The Greek term for this stone - alabastron (probably of Egyptian origin) - probably reveals the inspiration for the shape, and many examples are covered with white-ground, as if to imitate the stone. It seems primarily to have been a vessel for perfumed oil, as indicated by scenes on vases depicting it in use, e.g., by women after bathing.

Athenian alabastron ht. 13cm
  • Athenian alabastron ht. 13cm.
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