The Memnon pieta, Eos lifts up the body of her son Memnon. Kalos inscription. Interior from an Attic red-figure cup, ca. 490–480 BC. From Capua, Italy. Signed by Douris (painter) and Kalliades (potter).

Inscriptions on the left:

ΕΕΝΕΜΕΚΝΕRINE (meaning unclear), HERMOΓΕΝΕS KALOS (“Hermogenes kalos” - “Hermogenes is beautiful”).

Inscriptions on the right:

HEOS (“Eos”), ΔΟRIS EΓRAΦSEN (“Doris Egraphsen” - Do(u)ris painted it).

MEMNON (“Memnon”), KALIAΔES EΠOIESEN (“Kaliades epoiesen” - Kaliades made it).

Courtesy & currently located at the Louvre, France. Photo taken by Bibi Saint-Pol.

10

Claudine Doury: Loulan Beauty (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, & Uzbekistan)

I had read “Djamila”, by the Kyrghyz poet Tchinguiz Aitmatov, and it made me dream of the kolkhozes lost in the steppes and of its peoples : Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Kyrgyzs, Karakapalks…


From 2002 to 2005, I managed to travel to the Aral region in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, on the banks of the Issyk Kul lake in Kyrgyzstan and in Xinjiang. "Loulan Beauty" is the story of people from the middle of the world, heirs of sunken kingdoms, of fishermen without a sea, of children who dance to bring back their parents who work far away, of Lola who dreams of America, of men who listen to the sands singing, of girls with a thousand braids, just like those found on Loulan, their four thousand year old ancestor.

The inspiration for the project came from the discovery of the “Loulan Beauty”, a 4,000 year old mummy unearthed in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Thanks to the extreme dryness and the preservative properties of salt, the corpse was remarkably intact - her eyelashes, the fine hair on her skin, even the lines on her skin were visible… all revealing  Nordic origins through a telltale large nose, narrow jaw and reddish-brown hair.

The Loulan Beauty is one of more than 200 remarkably well-preserved mummies discovered in the western deserts here over the last few decades. The ancient bodies have become protagonists in a very contemporary political dispute over who should control the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.

[…]Uighur nationalists have gleaned evidence from the mummies, whose corpses span thousands of years, to support historical claims to the region.

The Tarim mummies seem to indicate that the very first people to settle the area came from the west — down from the steppes of Central Asia and even farther afield — and not from the fertile plains and river valleys of the Chinese interior. The oldest, like the Loulan Beauty, date back 3,800 years.

Some Uighurs have latched on to the fact that the oldest mummies are most likely from the west as evidence that Xinjiang has belonged to the Uighurs throughout history.

read more via nytimes

Don't Piss Off Dionysus

Douris, Red-Figure Cup Showing the Death of Pentheus and a Maenad, c. 480 B.C., Late Archaic Period, terracotta.  Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas

Douris,Red-Figure Cup Showing the Death of Pentheus and a Maenad, c. 480 B.C., Late Archaic Period, terracotta.  Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas

Whenever lecturing about Greek pottery, I only include examples with captivating, racy, or titillating narratives, otherwise students become entirely bored.  Forcing them to memorize a long list of black on red, red on black, white on white, etc. sounds more like a rundown of titles featured in a pornography convention than an art history course!

Today’s vase comes from the Kimbell Art Museum and depicts the mythical Theban king, Pentheus, being torn to shreds by a group of frenzied Theban women.  Pentheus pissed off Dionysus by denying his divinity and forbidding his worship.  Being the badass that he is, Dionysus caused the women of Thebes to become worked up into an ecstatic state and, thinking Pentheus a wild beast, they tore him limb from limb.

Take a look at both sides of the cup to get the full picture.

Douris, Red-Figure Cup Showing the Death of Pentheus and a Maenad, c. 480 B.C., Late Archaic Period, terracotta.  Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas

Douris,Red-Figure Cup Showing the Death of Pentheus and a Maenad, c. 480 B.C., Late Archaic Period, terracotta.  Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas

On one side, we see Pentheus being dismembered and on the other, Dionysus sits proud upon his throne holding a kantharos (wine cup).  Notice that the women around him are holding bits of Pentheus’ body.  Morbid!  And of course, both sides show naked satyrs doing satyrly things, from dancing to playing music.

So there you have it, a red on black vase that you’ll never forget!

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