This tiny Cretan vase, taking the form of a stylized human figure, was used to hold perfumed oil. Plastic vases--vessels made in the form of a human, animal, or mythological being--were very popular in the Greek world from about 650 to 550 B.C. On this early example, the figure's body, with arms folded across the belly, serves as the vessel's body, and a modeled human head forms the vessel's spout and neck. The artist used black paint was used to further elaborate the figure, and traces of the paint remain on the eyes and hair and in three bands on the body.
In the early 600s B.C., new artistic ideas flowed into Greece, due to increased contacts with the Near East. Because of their location, artists on the island of Crete took a leading role in synthesizing native and Near Eastern elements to create a new Greek style, called Daedalic by scholars after the mythological Cretan craftsman Daedalos. Typical features of the Daedalic style include triangular faces with low, straight foreheads, balanced by the masses of hair with strong horizontal waves on both sides.