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Attic Red-Figure Lekythos - Demeter in Winged Chariot

Ancient Greece, Athens (Attic), ca. 470 to 460 BCE. A very special red-figured lekythos depicting a female goddess, most likely Demeter, dressed in flowing draperies and a headdress, holding a spear, and seated on a winged chariot that belongs to Triptolemos. It is quite unusual to see Demeter sitting in her protege’s winged car. Triptolemus (Triptolemos) was a demi-god of the Eleusinian mysteries who presided over the milling of wheat and the sowing of grain-seed. See more on his relationship with Demeter in the extended description below. Above is a register of Greek key and cross motifs, and two bands of frets adorn the shoulder of the vessel. Size: 9" H (22.9 cm)

Triptolemus was one of the Eleusinian princes who sensitively received the goddess Demeter when she was mourning the loss of her daughter Persephone. Once Persephone was returned from the underworld, Demeter taught Triptolemos about agriculture and gave him a winged, serpent-drawn chariot so that he could travel throughout the lands. Tragically, when he reached the home of the Scythians, King Lynkos (Lyncus) killed one of his dragon-serpents driving the hero away. Deventer then turned the king into a lynx and deprived the Scythians this coveted gift of agriculture.

Condition: Repaired from multiple pieces with areas of restoration. Red misfired areas may have intended to present other deities - perhpas Triptolemus, Persephone, Hekate, or other Eleusinian gods.

Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection; ex-Royal Athena Galleries, New York, USA

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