A Daunian Decorated Pottery Askos

Canosa, Puglia, Italy

Circa 350 to 325 B.C

The spherical body is so evenly constructed that it is able to rest upright on the smallest area of the smooth underside. The wide spout has a flaring rim decorated to the inside with interlocking S shapes and the wide strap handle is finished with a small knob at the base. The upper portion of the askos is ornamented with listati (bands of decoration); wavy lines, dotted zig-zags, undulating vine-leaves and scrolling tendrils with small animals. Each design is separated by a pair of parallel undulating lines and the lower half of the receptacle is decorated with vertical garlands, animals and birds. The decoration as a whole is designed to emphasise the swelling shape of the body.

Dimensions: Height 34.8 cm Diameter 32 cm (13.75 x 12.75 in)

Provenance:
Heinz Weisz Collection, Geneva, acquired in the 1960's.

Exhibited:
Musee d'art et d'histoire, Geneva, 24 October 2002 - 19 January 2003
Mona Bismarck Foundation, Paris, 5 February - 5 April 2003

Published:
L'Art Premier des Lapyges Ceramique Antique d'Italie Meridionale by J. Chamay and C. Courtois.Exhibition Catalogue, Musee d'art et d'histoire, Geneva, 2002, no. 56

The pot is of a type known as an askos and this shape probably derives originally from an animal skin container; pottery askos have been made in this area of south-eastern Italy for thousands of years.

Canosa was an important Daunian town in Apulia (modern day Puglia) and a centre for pottery making which developed independently of the first Greek ceramics. This pot is of the type known as an askos which probably takes its shape from an animal skin container. Earlier pots were decorated with a variety of symmetrical shapes such as diamonds, crosses and circles and the development of the use of animals and birds as in this example came from the influence of imports from Greece and also from Greek settlers in the region. However, there remained a strong native tradition and as is often seen in the best cross-cultural works of art, the incorporation and adaptation of new design ideas serves to enliven the original designs.

1350/2716
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