Mourning figures wrap all the way around this vessel, even beneath the handles.
The loutrophoros, a tall-necked water vessel, served two main purposes in ancient Athens. In life, it carried sacred spring water for ceremonial pre-marriage baths. After death, it marked the tomb of an unmarried person, as if to account for that not experienced in life. Here, both the precise shape—a two-handled loutrophoros amphora rather than a three-handled loutrophoros hydria—and the depiction of the deceased suggest the commemoration of a departed man (rather than a woman). The iconography is entirely funerary, with multiple mourning figures shown: four women on the neck; six women surrounding the corpse on its bier; and three men making farewell gestures. The inscriptions near some of the mourning women do not spell out real words but may represent their sorrowful cries.
Black-Figure Loutrophoros (Ritual Water Vessel): Prothesis (Laying out of Corpse), Mourners
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