Attributed to the Brygos Painter
Terracotta; H. 11 1/8 in. (28.4 cm)
Fletcher Fund, 1924 (24.97.28)
A solitary figure decorates the elongated body of this small red-figure lekythos, a flask for oil and perfume distinguished by its narrow aperture. Although the single female figure may be considered an excerpt from a symposium scene, it is perfectly satisfactory in itselfpartly because it is so masterfully composed. A young woman plays the aulos, a double-reed wind instrument. She wears an Ionic chiton, himation, shoes, a sakkos (scarf), disk earrings, and a spiral bracelet. Behind her hangs a case made of spotted skin and the receptacle for the instrument's mouthpiece. In front of her is a chair with a fringed cushion.
The aulos, commonly mistaken as a flute, was more akin to the oboe or clarinet, as the reed mouthpiece was inserted into a cylindrical pipe. The instrument was constructed of two such pipes, made of reed, wood, bone, or ivory, that were played simultaneously. Each pipe had a range of six possible notes. However, since each pipe had its own mouthpiece, a musician could extend the musical range by playing the pipes separately.