Minoan; Greece, Crete
Terracotta; H. 3 3/4 in. (9.5 cm)
Gift of Alastair Bradley Martin, 1973 (1973.35)
This vase in the form of a bull's head is a type of libation vessel known as a rhyton. It was filled either by immersion in a large container or through the hole at the top of the animal's head. Wine, blood, or some other designated liquid was poured through the hole in the animal's muzzle. Using the principle of the siphon, the liquid would not flow out as long as the opening at the top was closed with the thumb. Such libations were part of sacrificial offerings or other ceremonies performed at funerary and religious rituals. The rhyton is articulated with ears and horns in relief, and glaze strokes indicate the forelock and dark markings on the animal's hide.