Head of a Sphinx

Head of a Sphinx

540-520 BC


Overall: 27 x 20.5 x 26.3 cm (10 5/8 x 8 1/16 x 10 3/8 in.)

Weight: 16.103 kg (35.5 lbs.)

Gift of the John Huntington Art and Polytechnic Trust 1928.858



This female head once belonged to a sphinx, a mythological hybrid creature with the head of a woman and body of a winged lion. Her short cylindrical crown, known as a polos, helps to identify her as a sphinx, as does the slope of her hair and neck, which once continued onto a feline body. Also common in ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern art (though more often in male form), the sphinx is best known in Greek mythology for devouring passersby who could not answer her riddle outside the Boiotian city of Thebes. Stone sphinxes like this one served as both votive offerings and grave monuments in Archaic Greece.

See also
GR - Greek
Greek and Roman Art
Type of artwork: 

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