Skyphos, mastos and mastoid cup

Drawing of skyphoi and skyphos

The skyphos (pl. skyphoi) is a deep-bowled drinking vessel with a low foot and two short handles that are usually horizontal. It is regularly depicted in symposium scenes. Shallower versions of the shape, with a concave lip, are termed 'cup-skyphoi'. In the fifth-century, some skyphoi have a vertical handle. These are regularly decorated with an owl, an Athenian symbol, from where the name glaux (Greek for owl) is derived.

The term skyphos is ancient, although it seems also to have been used for cups (kylikes). Another term that is often used for deep straight-sided drinking vessels is the Greek kotyle (pl. kotylai), but this too seems to have been used in antiquity for cups of all sorts. Likewise, kylix also seems to have been used to refer to the shape we today term the skyphos.

A variation on the shape, the mastos (pl. mastoi; Greek mastos - breast), is named for its breast-like shape, which terminates in a nipple. Examples with a flat base and offset lip are termed 'mastoid cups'.

Corinthian skyphos
  • Corinthian skyphos
Large Athenian black-figure cup-skyphos
  • Large Athenian black-figure cup-skyphos
Athenian mastoid cup
  • Athenian mastoid cup
Back to top