White-ground alabastrum

White-ground alabastrum

The White-Ground Alabastrum is a style of Greek vase dated to c.500 B.C.


An alabastrum is a small vase that is elongated and is rounded at the bottom and has a broad rim at the top of a small neck. The white-ground style was mainly used for personal items like perfumes, ointments, toilet boxes, drinking cups, or oil-flasks to be buried with the dead or offered at their tombs. They can very in sizes from as small as four inches to much larger 12 inches tall. Its name comes from Alabaster, because some vases were carved out of it.


This work is assumed to be from the Archaic era, because of the red-figure work. This work started in the same time period as the Attic pottery and continues to and throughout the fifth century.

The pottery was created by using a white slip over the surface of the clay body to give it a look of richness and distinction to the vase. This style show the early development of the techniques used to create figures. The objects were first outlined with either black or brown paint, then they were filled in with a solid color only in selected areas. The most commonly used colors were brown, yellow, red, green, blue, and black. This style was extremely expensive, but were very attractive.

The drawings are more like animation and have sharp lines having the ability to give the figure clarity. Some of the faces found on the vase are full of life, yet shows the forceful action in which they can be seen in a human element. Many have birds that look so graceful and are shown in a silhouette style. Some may have feathers that are brightly colored and dangle off the bird. The general appearance is noted by the color itself, giving the humans an ivory tone and the yellow clothing a rich feel. Many works from this time are framed in with small lines above and below the main picture to draw the attention to that section. The very top and bottom are in a more geometric design to give a finishing touch to the vase.

"It was an alabastrum of precious nard which the reverent woman poured on the hair of Jesus at Bethany", as St. Mark specities: 14-3."


# Masterpieces of Greek Art, Raymond V. Schoder, S.J., New York Graphic Society
# An Introduction to Greek Art, Susan Woodford, New York, 1988
# The Birth of Greece, Pierre Leveque, Discoveries, New York, 1990

External links

* [http://etc.usf.edu/clipart/galleries/Arts/greek_vase.htm Florida's Educational Technology Clip Art]

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