Friday, April 06, 2007

Ivory Youth

Ivory Youth, 650-640 BCE

The Daedalic style in figures of men resembles that for women in its rigid frontality, the highly patterned and stylized wig-like hair, and the impressive, staring eyes; the difference is that the men are nude.

This is a costly ivory (tusk) piece, originally probably part of a musical instrument - a finial for a cithara - which dates to 650-640 BCE, possibly from Samos. The piece combines techniques from the East ("Orientalizing") with Greek sensibilities. The Greeks represented young men (kouroi) nude; public nudity among males at the time was not uncommon. Also, the sense of patterning is more Greek than Eastern, with intricate incisions representing the boy's pectoral musculature. He also has clavicles and stomach muscles, details not found in sculpture until much later. Although he appears to be kneeling, he may be posed as a dancer, which would conform with the association with a musical instrument. Dance is an essential component of Greek culture, and seems to play an important role in providing sculptors with poses they can copy and represent.

The triangle, or inverted triangle, predominates in the patterning, as in much Greek art of this period. Here the geometric form has been rendered more expressive than is usual. The huge eyes are typical and, of course, highly expressive. They would originally have been inlaid with something colorful.