A fine Canosa terracotta Antefix, Magna Grecia, ca. 3rd century BCE
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Women in ancient Greece had numerous women-only festivals, focused largely on agrarian rites honoring the goddess Demeter (such as the Thesmophoria and Haloa), as well as secret viticultural rites for Dionysos. But whereas rituals for Dionysos were intended to ensure the production of wine, the Demeter rites were involved with agriculture, the product of which – grain – was one of the intimate concerns of women and one of their main domestic duties: the production of loaves, bread, bread cakes, and porridge from barley and wheat. From Demeter’s gift of grain, women produced flour through the laborious process of grinding (Hom. Od . 20.105-21), transforming it into dough, and then in her honor, manipulating the product of their domestic skills into bread. Two particular festivals were involved with this aspect of women’s business: the major festival of the Athenian Thesmophoria, celebrated in the city and in the demes, and the less significant Haloa festival, celebrated parochially at nearby Eleusis. Women, through their ritual competence in women-only rites, became cultic citizens and inverted many features of male political organizations.
Condition: Small breakage to petals and some repaired, with excellent remaining polychrome, the applique is intact and in very good condition overall. A lovely example.
Dimensions: Height: 6 3/4 inches (17.15 cm), Width: 6 1/4 inches (15.9 cm)
Provenance: Private North Carolina collection, acquired from Gawain McKinley, 26 November 1983 and previously in the collection of Mr. Peter Glydewell, Greenwich, Connecticut. Accompanied by a copy of original invoice.
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