Exhibit of the month
“When the temperature drops …”
…. ἀμφὶ δὲ χλαῖναν ἑέσσατ᾿ ἀλεξάνεμον, μάλα πυκνήν..
(… and then put about him a cloak, very thick, to keep off the wind)
Homer, Odyssey 14, 529
Homer. The Odyssey with an English Translation by A.T. Murray, PH.D. in two volumes. Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd. 1919.
Figurine of a peasant
National Archaeological Museum
Collection of Metalwork, inv. no X13057
Provenance: found in the ancient Arcadian sanctuary of Pan Nomios, near Neda (Berekla) in present-day Messenia.
Dimensions: Height: 0.077 m
Date: early 5th c. BC
Display location: Metalwork Collection, Room 37, Showcase 22.
The cast bronze figurine depicts a young beardless peasant, standing, looking straight at the viewer. On the large head, compared to the body, he wears a conical cap, the pilos. The face with the coarse features is dominated by the wide-open eyes. A long himation is draped over the body, leaving only the feet with the closed shoes exposed. The contour lines of the arms, joined at waist level, with bent elbows, are revealed through the garment denoting an obvious effort to keep the himation fastened. Its edges are fixed around the neck with a pin with ring-shaped head indicated by incisions. Incised undulating lines suggest the vertical folds of the himation.
The figurine is a charming work of provincial art of the early 5th c. BC that was retrieved from a rural sanctuary on the south slopes of Mount Lykaion (Nomian mountains) in south-western Arcadia, next to the springs of Neda River. Pan Nomios, whose cult had its roots in Arcadia, protector of herds and flocks as well as stockbreeders, was worshipped there. The dedicator of the figurine was possibly a humble person, inhabitant of the Arcadian countryside, either a stockbreeder or a shepherd. He expressed his gratitude to Pan for protecting his animals, himself and his family by offering a figurine of himself, dressed in an outfit that was appropriate for his daily engagements as well as his visit – pilgrimage to the mountainous rural sanctuary. The long himation that is draped over the figure alludes to the known from written sources chlaine, a type of warm woollen cloak, a variation of the himation that was worn over the chiton and protected from bad weather those who worked in the countryside. The size of the chlaine allowed its use as a blanket whereas its fastening with a pin is already mentioned by Homer (Iliad 10, 133)
In antiquity people who worked outdoors kept their head warm with the pilos, a soft cap made of wool, fur, felt or animal skin. In ancient Greek art, the pilos is depicted worn by fishermen, boatmen, farmers, shepherds, hunters, carriers, cart drivers, slaves, potters, copper-smiths and children. The pilos turned into an iconographic symbol of members of the lower classes that engaged in manual labour either in the asty (= city) or the countryside. A variation of the pilos that resembled a conical hat made of hard material and usually featuring a narrow brim and a loop at the top intended for hanging, was worn, as an alternative to the wide-brimmed petasos, by gods, horsemen, travellers and members of the aristocracy. A variant of this is the pilos type helmet (Laconian or Arcadian pilos). The pilos is also considered a distinctive sartorial element in the iconography of the hero Odysseus and the Dioskouroi. The shoes of the figurine are partly visible and form undoubtedly a type of boots suitable for people of the countryside, possibly embades, endromides or karbatinae.
 Pins: jewelry made of bronze, iron, gold, silver or bone and at the same time useful items for fastening clothes, primarily the women’s garment kwown as peplos.
 Embades (or embatai): cheap men’s boots lined with felt or fur.
Karbatinae (or karpatinae): thick durable shoes made of a single piece of leather, without a real sole, worn outdoors.
Endromides: a type of furry high boots that covered the foot up to the tibia. They were usually worn by horsemen, hunters, travelers, runners and soldiers.
Κουρουνιώτης, Κ., “Ανασκαφή ιερού νομίου Πανός”, ΠΑΕ, 1902, 72-75.
Stais, V., Marbres et Bronzes du Musee National I, Athens 1910, 311.
Lamb, W., “Arcadian Bronze Statuettes”, BSA 27 (1925-26), 139, no 16.
Lamb, W., Ancient Greek and Roman Bronzes, Chicago 1969, 93.
Jacobsthal, P., Greek Pins and their Connectxions with Europe and Asia, Oxford 1956, 106 (on the figurines of Arcadian peasants) and 134 (on pins with ring-shaped head).
Jost, M., “Statuettes de Bronze Archaiques provenant de Lykosoura”, BCH 99 (1975), 342-344, fig. 8.
Jost, M., Sanctuaires et Cultes d’ Arcadie, Paris 1985, 187, 408 n. 1, pl. 51.2.
Fuchs W. – Floren J., Die Griechische Plastik, Band I, Muünchen 1987, 229 n. 22.
Hubinger, U., “On Pan’s Iconography and the Cult in the Sanctuary of Pan on the Slopes of Mount Lykaion”, in Hagg, P. (ed.), The Iconography of Greek Cult in the Archaic and Classical periods, Proceedings of the First International Seminar on Ancient Greek Cult organized by the Swedish Institute at Athens and the European Cultural Centre of Culture of Delphi, Delphi 16-18 November 1990, KERNOS Supplement 1, Athenes – Liege 1992, 189-207, Appendix 208, Α.4.
Βοκοτοπούλου, Ι., Αργυρά και Χάλκινα έργα τέχνης στην Αρχαιότητα, Athens 1997, 89, 235, no 67.
On the chlaine see:
Losfeld, G., Essai sur le Costume Grec, Paris 1991, 153-158.
On the pilos see:
Χατζηδημητρίου, Α., Παραστάσεις εργαστηρίων και εμπορίου στην εικονογραφία των Αρχαϊκών και Κλασικών Χρόνων, Athens 2005, 133-134 (with rich bibliography).
Pipili, Μ., “Wearing an ‘Other’ hat”, in Cohen, B. (ed.), Not the Classical ideal: Athens and the Construction of the Other in Greek Art, Leiden 2000, 153-179, mainly 163-179.
On the Laconian or Arcadian pilos see:
Αβρονιδάκη, Χ., Ο Ζωγράφος του Άργου, Συμβολή στη έρευνα της βοιωτικής ερυθρόμορφης κεραμικής στο β΄ μισό του 5ου αι. π.Χ., Athens 2007, 103, n. 575 (rich bibliography).
On the ancient Greek shoes see:
Corso, A., “Αρχαία Ελληνικά Υποδήματα”, Αρχαιολογία και Τέχνες 82 (2002), 59-67.
Athanasopoulou, S., “Treads of a woman’s sandals”, National Archaeological Museum website, EXHIBIT OF THE MONTH, APRIL 2017 (https://www.namuseum.gr/object-month/en/monthly_artefact/treads-of-a-woman-s-sandals/).