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Athos Holy Mount

10.3 Phiale (holy water font)
18th/19th c. or later
Simonopetra Monastery
Engraved and painted slipware
Height 18 cm, rim diameter 27 cm, base diameter 12.5 cm


The Original New Testament

Made of red clay, this phiale has a hemispherical bowl with a high conical foot. Both its interior and exterior surfaces are covered with white slip. The interior surface is decorated with a casually sketched sgraffito design that has been rather uncertainly incised with a medium-width needle: three concentric circles, the outer (wider) one segmented by pairs of parallel lines, form an annulus in the centre of the bowl; this is overlain by a Greek cross formed of two segmented strips, one twice the width of the other, whose cross-barred ends extend beyond the circumference of the annulus. Within the four quadrants and resting on the outer perimeter of the annulus are four circles: one of these is ornamented with a quatrefoil rosette and two with fire-wheels, while the potter's hesitation has given the fourth a motif which is something between the two. A rich brown enhances the sgraffito decoration, with delicate ribbons of colour running from the centre towards the rim and spilling over onto the outside. The glaze covering the interior and exterior surfaces of the bowl has a slight yellowish tinge.

The sgraffito and painted decoration of this phiale is a typically Byzantine technique (Bakirtzis 1980, p. 148). The decorative motifs produced by the sgraffito decoration - typical of eighteenth/nineteenth century pottery - are somewhat cursory, uncertain and indistinct in style (Delivorrias 1994, pp. 78-80). The indiscriminate mixture of motifs familiar and unfamiliar to the Byzantine decorative repertory, which are rendered, however, in accordance with the Byzantine technique of pottery, suggests a much later dating (Catalogos Avramidi 1990).

Bibliography: Unpublished.

Ch. B.
Index of exhibits of Monastery of Simonopetra
18th century

The Authentic Greek New Testament Bilingual New Testament I

Icon of the Mother of God and New Testament Reader Promote Greek Learning
Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Learned Freeware


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