|Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology|
in the Ashmolean Museum
|Highlights of the Collection: Prehistoric Terracottas|
|Red Polished and Black Polished ware||Page 5 of 9|
|Red Polished ware, along with its twin Black Polished, is the most characteristic ware of the Cypriot Early Bronze Age, spanning a period of something like six hundred years. As its name suggests, Red Polished is distinguished by a dark red-brown surface slip, whose colour derives from oxidising conditions during firing, and which is sometimes (though not always) highly polished. Its counterpart, Black Polished, is basically the same ware, on which the slip is subjected to reducing conditions during firing, thus turning the surface black. Both techniques are sometimes found in combination on the same pot [e.g. dagger (AN1974.355)].|
|Both wares encompass a wide range of shapes, including flasks, jugs and bowls of various types and sizes, most of them with rounded bases. Many of the flasks and jugs have long spindly necks perched on bulbous bodies, and look rather gourd-like [e.g. "Gourd" jug (AN1953.255), left]. Real dried gourds, with incised decoration, and reminiscent of the shapes and appearance of Red Polished pottery, can still be bought in Cypriot tourist shops today [see Modern Gourd, right]. They are often decorated with incised patterns which were filled with a white calcareous substance to make them stand out.|
|In addition to the
flasks, jugs and bowls, two Red Polished types stand out as particularly
noteworthy. One is a series of vessels (often large bowls, but including
a range of other shapes) decorated with applied animals and other objects
(sometimes including human figures) modelled in the round, which seem,
in a few cases, to constitute actual "scenes" of activities
such as ploughing or grape-pressing, rather like some of the wooden models
of roughly similar date found in Egyptian tombs. The little donkey with
its panniers [e.g. AN1888.623]
almost certainly came from a pot adorned in this way. The other are vessels
shaped in the form of animals, sometimes identifiable as bulls or stags
[e.g. AN1888.625], but often unidentifiable
in terms of any realistic creature [e.g.
AN1971.856]. These are generally hollow, with openings below the
head or on the body, and may have been used as pouring vessels. In addition
to these, are what may be described more straightforwardly as clay models
or replicas of objects in other materials. The horn [e.g.
AN1971.850] and the dagger [e.g.
AN1974.355] are examples of these.
with Bull's head
(Cypriot pottery and clay figurines 3)
(White Painted ware)
|Ancient Cyprus Home||Top of Page|
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