column krater


For the landform crater, see Crater.

A krater (in Greek: κρατήρ, kratēr, from the verb κεράννυμι, keránnymi, meaning "I mix") was a vase used to mix wine and water. At a Greek symposium, kraters were placed in the center of the room. They were quite large, so they were not easily portable when filled. Thus, the wine-water mixture would be withdrawn from the krater with other vessels. In fact, Homer's Odyssey describes a steward drawing wine from a krater at a banquet and then running to and fro pouring the wine into guests' drinking cups. An interesting sidenote to this is that the modern Greek word now used for undiluted wine, krasi (κρασί), originates from this mixing of wine and water in kraters. Kraters were glazed on the interior to make the surface of the clay more suitable for holding water, and possibly for aesthetic reasons, since the interior could easily be seen.

Forms of kraters

The column krater

This form was invented in Corinth, but was taken over by the Athenians, where it is typically black-figure.

The calyx krater

Probably invented by Exekias in about 525 BC, this form remembers the calyx of flowers, with low handles protruding from the base of the bowl.

The volute krater

An Attic shape (whose handles look like the volute of a capital) that lasted through the 4th century BC.

The bell krater

This form looks like an inverted bell. All bell kraters are red-figure.

Metal kraters

According to many scholars the ceramic kraters imitated shapes designed initially for metal exemplars. Among the largest and most famous metal craters in antiquity were one in the possession of the Samian tyrant Polycrates, and another one dedicated by Croesus to the Delphic oracle. There are a few extant Archaic bronze kraters (or often only their handles), almost exclusively of the volute-type. Their main production centres were Sparta, Argos and Corinth, in Peloponnesus. During the Classical period the Volute-type continued to be very popular along with the calyx-type, and beside the Corinthian workshop an Attic one was probably active. Exquisite exemplars of both volute- and calyx-kraters come from Macedonian 4th century BC graves. Among them the Derveni bronze volute krater represents an exceptional chef d’œvre of the Greek toreutics.


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