4 Ancient Greek Pottery Patterns and Their Meanings

If you are interested in learning more about Greek pottery, then it is important to learn more than simply just the shapes themselves. Even though there are plenty of sizes, shapes, and styles from which to choose, it is also important to pay specific attention to the design patterns that show up on the various Greek vessels. That way, you will be able to learn more about exactly why these vessels were designed this way. There are several patterns that you should pay attention to as they show up on Ancient Greek pottery. Learn more about a few of these patterns below!

4 Patterns that Appear on Ancient Greek Pottery

There are several important patterns that commonly show up on Ancient Greek pottery. Some of the most important patterns include:

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  • Curvilinear Patterns: In some situations, you may notice something called curvilinear patterns that are present on Greek pottery. Curvilinear patterns refer to the specific nature of the painting, decorations, and other signs of craftsmanship that show up on the pottery themselves. As the name suggests, they are marked by curved strokes. These curved strokes were used to create more abstract paintings, designs, and other works of art on various Greek pottery vessels including kylices, amphorae, and other vessels. Curvilinear patterns tend to show up on more recent great vessels when compared to ancient ones.
  • Rectilinear Patterns: Largely seen as the opposite of curvilinear patterns, you may also say something called rectilinear patterns. Rectilinear patterns showed up before curvilinear patterns. There are many people who believe that these rectilinear patterns hearken back to some of the Mycenaean traditions, which existed before Greek culture. This is also a reflection of Eastern influence on the pottery painters of ancient Greece. In contrast to the curb Strokes of curvilinear patterns, rectilinear patterns are marked by long, clean, straight lines along with sharp edges. These patterns also showed up in Greek architecture and not just Greek pottery.
  • The Silhouette Technique: On more recent works of Greek art, you may also notice something called the silhouette technique. The silhouette technique was used specifically by painters from ancient Corinth. It dates back to several hundred years BCE. For example, the silhouette technique commonly appeared when painters were trying to paint lions, sphinxes, griffins, and other specific animals and creatures. This technique was used to increase the attention to detail of the artwork and highlight certain aspects of the pottery.
  • The Black-Figure Pottery Pattern: After the birth of the silhouette technique, another pattern began to emerge. This is called the black-figure pottery style and started to show up around 600 BCE. During this time, many Greek painters were starting to focus their paintings on people instead of animals or pictorial themes. For example, this pattern will be used to highlight impressive feats of human athleticism, accomplishments in battle, and fantasy interactions that people might have with God. During this time, Athens was increasingly becoming the center of the pottery world in Greece, displacing Corinth in the process.

These are just three of the many techniques that can be found in ancient Greek pottery. It is important for everyone to keep these techniques in mind when they are looking at the pottery itself. That way, they can gain a deeper appreciation for the hard work that these ancient painters put into their work.

The Meanings of These Patterns

There are numerous reasons why these patterns are so important. First, these patterns are important because they help us to date these works of art. When we are looking at these patterns, we sometimes wonder when these vessels were first developed. Depending on the techniques that we noticed, we may be able to date ancient works of Greek art to a specific point in time.

In addition, these patterns are important because they help us understand these ancient cultures. A lot of elements of Greek culture continue to persist to this day. When we are able to take a closer look at these patterns, we are able to get a glimpse of how this ancient culture lived its life. Therefore, we are able to place Greek pottery and appreciate it properly.

Finally, these patterns have meanings because they show up in modern works of art as well. A lot of the foundations that were established by Greek artwork continue to remain important to modern artists to this day.

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