Six komasts or revelers dance around the sides of this Athenian black-figure cup. Participants in the singing and dancing after a symposion or drinking party, komasts were a particularly fitting decoration for a cup used at such an occasion. Komasts have a distinctive vigorous dance. They stand on one leg, with one arm forward and one arm back, and they often hold drinking horns or cups while dancing. Although some dancers wore short padded tunics, most were naked, as these are.
Vase-painters portrayed komasts on several types of vessels in the early 500s B.C., but they appeared so frequently on a special form of cup with a deep, curved body, an offset lip, and a short spreading foot that scholars call it a komast cup. These cups were always decorated in a similar way. In addition to the dancers, they all have a floral design under the handles, a simple pattern--usually rosettes--on the lip, a zone of rays above the foot, and a black interior. In spite of their repetitive decoration, komast cups were popular and widely exported from about 580 to 560 B.C.