Terracotta group of three dancers in a ring


British Museum

British Museum

This small terracotta group has three female figures wearing long striped dresses and dancing in a ring. Their arms are joined as if linked at the elbows or as if they are holding hands. The group is perhaps intended to represent a form of sacred dance and was probably made as a dedication at a sanctuary. Ring-dances in terracotta originated in Minoan Crete, where dancing as part of ritual activity was also shown on frescoes. In the Iliad (xviii, 591-605), Homer talks of a 'dancing floor, like that which once in the wide spaces of Knossos Daidalos built for Ariadne of the lovely tresses'. Excavations at Knossos have revealed circular structures which could be identified as dancing floors. It seems that the evidence of archaeology bears out the literary tradition associating Crete with sacred dances, and this terracotta shows the tradition as it was inherited by the Mycenean world.

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  • Title: Terracotta group of three dancers in a ring
  • Date Created: -1300/-1300
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 6.50cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Subject: dance
  • Registration number: 1996,0325.1
  • Production place: Made in Greece
  • Period/culture: Mycenaean
  • Material: terracotta
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Charles Ede Ltd. Funded by British Museum Friends