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A Boeotian Terracotta Jointed Figurine, Archaic Period, ca. 5th Century B.C.
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GT1607

A Boeotian Terracotta Jointed Figurine, Archaic Period, ca. 5th Century B.C.

This truly charming figurine belongs to a group that appeared in mainland Greece in the late sixth century B.C. It represents a girl wearing a short chiton, commonly called a chitoniskos; on her head is a kalathos, a boxlike headdress; her hair falls to the shoulders.  The figurine is mold-made with only the front sculpted; the back is simply left flat. The articulated arms and legs are handmade and may originally have been attached to the body with metal pins. A hole on top of the head shows this figurine was intended to be suspended, enabling the articulated limbs to move freely.  The movement of the limbs certainly lent vitality to the figurine, while adding a magical aspect.

Background:  Although commonly referred to as a "doll,'' these figurines were brought to temples and sanctuaries as offerings to the gods and deposited in graves either as cherished possessions of the deceased, as gifts, or as protective devices.  Occasionally they are shown holding  crotala (castanets) in their hands, and the kalathos headdress helps identify them as ritual dancers. It is well known that song and dance were common features of Greek worship. In fact, several ancient authors refer to a specific dance, called kalathiskos, that was performed by young girls wearing short chitons and kalathoi.

cf: Muratov, Maya B. “Greek Terracotta Figurines with Articulated Limbs.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/gtal/hd_gtal.htm (October 2004)

Dimensions: Height: 6.3 inches (16 cm)

Condition:  Loss to both hands and top of legs conserved, 19th century fragile stringing to arms and legs replaced with conservation material, good remains of original white slip so overall in very good condition. Presented on a museum quality custom mount.  A truly charming example!

Provenance:   Private Dundee, IL collector, with partial early 20th century identification label on back, thence by descent.

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