A young athlete squats with his hands on his knees and his weight on the balls of his feet. The object hanging behind him is an aryballos, a vessel for scented oil used for bathing after exercise. Although there is no fulcrum, the slanting line under the youth has been interpreted as a seesaw; thus the scene would show a feat of balance. Scholars call this vase shape a type of oinochoe, which usually means a pouring vessel or jug, rather than a cup. In this instance, however, the vase is a mug that was used for drinking, ladling, or measuring liquids.
Because of imperfections in its manufacture, this mug helps illustrate how Greek vases were decorated. In most workshops, the master painters would paint the figures and a small strip of glaze around them. An apprentice would then cover the rest of the vase with glaze. On this example, the apprentice carefully dipped most of the cup into a bucket of glaze, except for the side with the figure. He then set out to fill in the area around the figure with brushed-on glaze. However, the glaze he used for this final step was too dilute, so it did not turn a solid black when the vase was fired.