Handmade and hand-painted copy of the Amphora Boxers at the Games held within the British Museum collection.
The original is a remarkable piece of pottery which dates from 550BC-540BC. Its narrow neck and two thin, grooved handles are typical of amphora, which were jars used by the Ancient Greeks to carry wine or oil.
The illustration reveals interesting insights into ancient sports. Two athletes feature boxing, nude and bearded, each grasping the other's right arm. The one on the left bleeds heavily at the nose; the other from a wound in the forehead. Until around 500 BC thongs known as himantes were worn wrapped around the hands and forearms, as shown on this amphora, and gloves were used from the fourth century BC, as shown with the caestus (ancient battle gloves) on their hands. It possibly shows the pankration, which was one of the most violent of all Greek sports. It was an extreme form of wrestling that banned only biting and gouging with the fingers and it only ended when one competitor acknowledged defeat.
Between them is inscribed: NIKOΣΘENEΣEΠOIEΣEN, Νικοσθένης εποίησεν- a classical precursor of the marks and signatures of the great European workshops of the last few centuries. The products of Athenian workshops were in great demand throughout the Mediterranean markets from Etruria and South Italy, to Carthage, Egypt and the coasts of Anatolia (Asia Minor). Attic black and red figure vases, such as this, were sought after for domestic and decorative usage in very much the same way as the products of the great names of European pottery and glass making (e.g. Wedgwood, Limoges, Meissen and Galle).
The designs feature on deep buff ground, with a palmette and lotus pattern under each handle. A beautiful ornament with a story to tell, this piece is a pleasure to own.