Figurines playing the ephedrismos game

Material: Clay
Provenance: From Myrina.
Date: 2nd century BC
Dimensions: ăeight: 0.47m
Exhibition place: Room 60, Case 25, inv. no. 5083.

┴ woman wearing a long dress (chiton) which reveals her right shoulder and breast carries a little Nike ('Victory') on her back. Her cloak (himation) is bound around her hips. On the rear face of both wings of the Nike the inscriptions ¤đ╦ and ě┴╦ have been scratched before firing. Except for a firing hole in the back of the woman the rear face of the group is plain. The woman's dress shows traces of white and red color.

Julius Pollux in his work Onomasticon (9.119), describes the game of ephedrismos. Its aim was to overturn a pointed stone by throwing a ball ´r stone at it. The loser was the person who failed to do so. As a penalty, he/she had to run to touch the stone, while carrying the winner on his or her back, with his or her eyes covered by the winner's hands. Sometimes the winner holds a ball. In depictions of the game, the players are usually girls, boys, Erotes (cupids) and satyrs. Since children often played with balls on the occasion of religious celebrations, it is possible that figurines depicting ephedrismos may have had some religious significance.

The subject of ephedrismos appeared in the Athenian vase painting, and probably in sculpture, of the Classical period and it was common in the Hellenistic era especially in the workshops of figurine makers (coroplasts).

┬ibliography: F. Winter, Die antiken Terrakotten. Die Typen der figurlichen Terrakoten III.2, Berlin 1903, 65 no. 7. ╠. Fitta, Spiele und Spielzeuge in der Antike. Unterhaltung und Vergnugen im Altertum, (Stuttgart 1998) 19-20. J.P. Uhlenbrock (ed.), The Coroplast's art. Greek Terracottas of the Hellenistic World, ═ew York 1990, 128 no. 20 (G.S. Merker).

 
 
 
 
 
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