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Roman Bronze Hydria Attachment of a Siren

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Ancient World: Roman: Bronze: Pre AD 1000: item # 1186893

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Griffin Gallery Ancient Art
608 Banyan Trail
Boca Raton, FL 33431
tel 561-994-0811

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Roman Bronze Hydria Attachment of a Siren
Roman Bronze Hydria Attachment of a Siren, wings open as if in mid-flight. Wearing aegis with soft solemn features, her eyes thickly lidded and hair parted and rolled back in braids. Fully laden with overlapping leaf pattern. Circa 2nd - 3rd Century C.E., 6 1/4" high including custom lucite stand. In excellent condition. The Hydria, primarily a pot for fetching water, derives its name from the Greek word for water. Hydriai often appear on painted Greek vases in scenes of women carrying water from a fountain, one of the duties of women in classical antiquity. A hydria has two horizontal handles at the sides for lifting and a vertical handle at the back for dipping and pouring. Of all the Greek vase shapes, the hydria probably received the most artistically significant treatment in terracotta and in bronze. Bronze hydriai consist of a body, which was hammered, and a foot and handles, which were cast and decorated with figural and floral motifs. Sometimes the moldings and other decorative elements of the foot, handles, and rim were embellished with silver inlay. The green patina evident on many Greek bronze hydriai is a result of corrosion over the centuries. Originally, these vessels had a gold, copper, or brown tint, depending on the particular bronze alloy that was used. The cast vertical handles could be particularly elaborate, taking the form of human figures and powerful animals. Images of deities and other mythological figures appear on some of the more ornate vases of the Classical period. A particularly popular type of bronze hydria features a siren at the base of the vessel's vertical handle. Sirens, part beautiful woman and part bird were mythological creatures that often had funerary connotations. Their legendary singing lured sailors off course to shipwreck and death. Frequently, sirens appear on Classical Greek gravestones as if lamenting or watching over the deceased. Perhaps their appearance on the handles of bronze hydriai signifies the vessels' funerary function. Or, more generally, these mythological creatures may stand for female attendants. On the handles of bronze hydriai, sirens are represented with their wings open, as if in mid flight. Perhaps they are assisting in lifting the vessel and pouring out its liquid contents.


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