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Much of Greek society in ancient times was pastoral and in many regions, social standing was measured by the size of a person’s herd. It is no surprise then that the image of the shepherd was one of the most important motifs developed in sculpture in these communities. The picture of a shepherd carrying a sheep has two key messages – sometimes the gentle protector of the herd, sometimes the man bringing the sheep to a temple to sacrifice it to the gods. If we remind ourselves that sacrificial ceremonies were often accompanied by a feast, we can see that the image of the shepherd encompassed the whole spectrum of country life. This statuette comes from Crete, a region that was considerably influenced by Minoan culture. Echoes of the tradition can also be observed in our young man – in the apron around the hips and the wide belt and abrupt angle of the arms bent out to the side. The figure exudes a powerful force with its strong but slim legs and muscular torso. It was cast together with the stand. The shape below that is a relic of the casting process from the filter used to fill the mould. Usually, bronze casters meticulously removed all traces of the manufacturing process. Why this was not done here is not known. This statue is a very individual piece of work. And yet we can see evidence of a certain amount of standardisation. From the arms and the ram, we can tell that the wax model comprised several different parts, each of which was made from a clay mould and then attached to the shepherd’s shoulders – a combination of serial production and individualised craftsmanship. This technique is known from Ancient Egyptian bronzes but we cannot say whether the technique was directly passed on from the Greek settlements along the Nile delta.

Details

  • Title: Statuette of a man carrying a ram
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: -620
  • Location: Crete
  • Physical Dimensions: h180 cm
  • Type: Statuette
  • Medium: Bronze
  • Inv.-No.: Misc. 7477
  • ISIL-No.: DE-MUS-814319
  • External link: Altes Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyrights: Text: © Verlag Philipp von Zabern / Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Gerhard Zimmer || Photo: © b p k - || Photo Agency / Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Johannes Laurentius
  • Collection: Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz

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