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Large Canosan Pottery Standing Lady

Magna Graecia, Apulia, Canosan Hellenistic Period, ca. 3rd century BCE. A very large mold-made terracotta votive figure depicting a goddess standing with a classic weight shift, donning an elaborately draped chiton and himation with an ivy leaf wreath adorning her red, wavy coiffure, and holding her right arm outward with the palm of her hand facing upward and the forefinger of her left hand pointing up toward the celestial realm. Canosa, or Canosion as it was known then, was a major center of the ceramics and pottery trade when it was a Greek polis. It produced truly unique pottery, adorned by a completely different decorative technique from earlier and neighboring traditions. The clay is buff, with the painted decoration applied directly to it without the use of slip. This figure presents wonderful white and red pigmentation. Size: 18.25" H (46.4 cm)

Female figures like this one played an interesting role in Canosan funerary practices. They were placed into Canosan tombs as replacements for large red-figure kraters from the century before, but first, mourners carried them in funerary processions and kept them present while they carried out rituals at the tomb. Virtually all of the statues known from Canosan tombs depict women; however, scholars believe that they represented goddesses or mourners, rather than the gender of the deceased, for in this society, young women played a major role as mourners. The Canosans, like other members of Classical society, believed that the spirits of the dead remained at the tomb and watched over the living. Canosan tombs were re-opened frequently to bury members of the same lineage, and so these figures were probably reused as well, maintaining the connection between the living and the dead.

Condition: Repaired from multiple pieces. Arms, left forefinger, and head reattached. Surface wear with pigment losses as shown, though much white and red pigment remains. Mineral deposits grace the surface.

Provenance: ex-private M.S. & E.S. collection, San Diego, California, USA

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