Rhyton in the shape of a bull's head


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

This clay vessel would have been used for the sprinkling or pouring of liquids as part of a religious ritual. It is hollow, with an opening at the back and a hole in the muzzle. Ritual sprinklers or libation (liquid offering) vessels were frequently made in the shape of animals heads with small holes in the mouth to allow the liquid to escape. The bull's head is the most popular form. Bull-head rhyta are also known in other materials, most famously the one carved from serpentine from the Little Palace at Knossos and the example in silver from Shaft Grave IV at Mycenae, both of which had gilded horns.

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  • Title: Rhyton in the shape of a bull's head
  • Date Created: -1425/-1300
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 15.24cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: painted
  • Subject: mammal
  • Registration number: 1887,0501.6
  • Production place: Made in Greece
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Karpathos
  • Period/culture: Late Helladic IIIA
  • Material: pottery
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Donated by Paton, W R