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Ancient Cyprus
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  Highlights of the Collection: Prehistoric Terracottas
  Cypriot pottery and clay figurines (continued) Page 4 of 9
  Figurine (AN.C.267) Vessel with bull's head (AN1888.625) Three-legged Bird (AN1933.1685)
  Figurine (AN.C.267) Vessel with bull's head (AN1888.625) Three-legged Bird (AN1933.1685)
  Dagger & Sheath (AN1974.355)The tendency to standardisation within the repertoires of different wares and general styles is clearly apparent in the collections of prehistoric and early historic Cypriot pottery and figurines in museums such as the Ashmolean, which began to acquire Cypriot antiquities in the later 19th century, very largely the result of the excavation of tombs, whether authorised or illicit. Museum after museum and collection after collection in Cyprus and many other parts of the world present arrays of very similar shapes of pots with very similar types of decoration, for early Cypriot pottery has been widely collected for well over a century and until the 1970s it was relatively easy to export from the island. This might lead us to conclude that Cypriot pottery is often rather monotonous and predictable - and in some ways it is. However, it is very far from being boring. What saves it from this and makes it a constant source of delight is not only the extremely (sometimes extraordinarily) skilful and inventive way in which the shapes are modelled and the decoration applied, but also the evident sense of humour which Cypriot potters and coroplasts frequently reveal in small, apparently insignificant, matters of detail: the careful way in which the blade of a model dagger is fired red, possibly to suggest the idea of blood (see Dagger (AN1974.355)), the range of comical expressions given to individual Cypro-Archaic figurines (AN.C.267 above left), impossible creatures like a three-legged bird or dinosaur-like animal (see AN1933.1685, above right), or the cute faces and amusing poses of vessels in the shape of bulls or stags (see AN1888.625, above centre).
  Above right: Dagger (AN1974.355)
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Cypriot pottery and clay figurines 2)
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