Attic Black-Figure Mastos

Attributed to Psiax520 - 510 B.C.

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

A young woman plays the double flutes on the front of this black-figure mastos or breast-shaped cup. The other side of the vase depicts a woman flourishing a branch and an ivy sprig. These objects, as well as the nebris or animal skin that she wears over one shoulder, identify this woman as a maenad, a female follower of Dionysos, the god of wine. A Dionysiac interpretation applies also to the flute-girl on the front of the mastos, who might be imagined playing for the god and his entourage, or perhaps for the humans honoring the god at a symposium or drinking party.

A mastos was designed for use at just such a symposium. The mastos was a relatively rare cup shape produced by Athenian potters only in the later 500s B.C. The shape fit in with the erotic pleasures of the symposium. Although the nipple on this mastos has been reconstructed, the potter would originally have put a pellet or bead into the nipple so that it rattled as the cup was being used, providing further entertainment.

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  • Title: Attic Black-Figure Mastos
  • Creator: Attributed to Psiax
  • Date: 520 - 510 B.C.
  • Location Created: Athens, Greece
  • Physical Dimensions: 12.1 x 20.5 x 13 cm (4 3/4 x 8 1/16 x 5 1/8 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Terracotta
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California
  • Object Type: Mastos
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 90.AE.122
  • Display Location: Currently on view at: Getty Villa, Gallery 207, Women and Children in Antiquity
  • Department: Antiquities
  • Culture: Greek (Attic)
  • Classification: Vessels


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