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  Three-legged bird (AN1933.1685) Back to previous page

Three-legged bird (AN1933.1685)It is difficult to know how to describe this little creature, which is quite clearly in the tradition of the animal-shaped vessels of Red Polished Ware [e.g. AN1888.625, AN1971.856 (both below)]. It is probably a long-necked bird, of the sort which we see represented on later Cypriot pottery [e.g. AN1967.1088 (below)], but because it has three legs (in order to allow it to stand upright) it looks rather more like a three-legged dinosaur. Its simple decoration of painted lines gives a general impression of feathers. It has a small looped handle in the centre of the back, a bird-like head (with fairly deep incisions for eyes) on the end of a long neck, and a large round hole at the base of the neck giving access to the interior of the body which is hollow. It is just about the right size for a container of some valuable substance, such as special (perhaps perfumed?) oil, and may have been designed (with the addition of a stopper in the hole) to hold something of that sort.

A number of such small three-legged bird vessels are known, most of them presumably from tombs.

Other Details:
White Painted III, c. 1800 BC. No provenance.
Related Objects (click on image to go to object)
Click for more information on AN1888.625 Click for more information on AN1971.856 Click for more information on AN1967.1088
Vessel with bull's head
Two-headed animal vessel
Jug with bird
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