Terracotta oinochoe: chous (jug)

Attributed to the Meidias Painter

Period: Classical

Date: ca. 420–410 B.C.

Culture: Greek, Attic

Medium: Terracotta; red-figure

Dimensions: H. 8 7/16 in. (21.4 cm)
diameter 7 1/16 in. (17.9 cm)

Classification: Vases

Credit Line: Gift of Samuel G. Ward, 1875

Accession Number: 75.2.11


The scene depicts two women in festive dress perfuming garments. A stool suspended by chords is piled with folded clothing. On the ground below, there is a pile of wood shavings and twigs from which smoke rises. One woman carefully empties an oinochoe onto the fire. The other woman surveys the "swing" and stands beside a stately chair with a footstool over which more clothes are slung. At the far left is a wreathed boy wearing a himation (cloak). The shape of the vase facilitates the association of the scene with the Anthesteria, a three-day festival held in January/February that celebrated the new wine with the special inclusion of young children, an epiphany of Dionysos, and the ritual marriage of the god with the basilinna, the wife of the chief archon of Athens. While the precise meaning of the scene is not understood, it is evident that the Meidias Painter has melded significant features of the festival into a beautiful tableau.