Terracotta kylix (drinking cup)

Attributed to the Dokimasia Painter

Period: Classical

Date: ca. 480 B.C.

Culture: Greek, Attic

Medium: Terracotta; red-figure

Dimensions: H.: 3 13/16 in. (9.7 cm)
Diam.: 9 3/8 in. (23.8 cm)

Classification: Vases

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1906

Accession Number: 06.1021.188


On the interior of this kylix (shallow drinking cup), a bearded man is shown playing the lyre. With one hand, he plucks the strings; in the other, he holds the plektron. He wears a himation draped over his shoulders and a fillet ending in tassels.
In Classical Greece, the lyre was characterized by strings of equal length stretched from a holder at the base of the instrument over a bridge to the crossbar that joined two slender, curved side pieces. The lyrist made music by stroking the plektron in his right hand across the strings, sounding all those not damped with his left fingers. During performances, the instrument rested against the body of the musician and was held in place by a belt attached to the left wrist. The sound box of the lyre was made of the carapace of a tortoise, or of a wooden structure of similar shape with oxhide stretched over it. The slender sidepieces were made of horn or wood.