Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Lonely Sister – The Lonely Caryatid

Many museums around the world have countless Greek artefacts. However, the ones located within the British Museum are the ones most wanted by Greece, since they contain artefacts from the Parthenon. One statue which stands out is the lonely Caryatid. Her sisters are located in the New Acropolis Museum in Athens. During the sacking of the Parthenon, by Lord Elgin, she, together with countless statues and archaeological artefacts were ‘stolen’ and eventually brought to Britain. 

Caryatids are female figures serving as supports. The most likely derivation of their name is from the young women of Sparta who danced every year in honour of Artemis Karyatis ('Artemis of the Walnut Tree'). This is one of six caryatids that held up the roof of the temple on the Acropolis known as the Erechtheion. She wears a peplos, a simple tunic pinned on each shoulder. Her hair is braided and falls in a thick rope down her back. She probably held a sacrificial vessel in one of the missing hands.
The figure strongly resembles the women of the east frieze of the Parthenon, which had just been completed when work on the Erechtheion began. She carries an architectural capital like a basket on her head. From the side, her burden seems to bear down upon her; the weight is taken on the right leg, encased in perpendicular folds arranged like the fluting of a column shaft. The other leg is flexed with the drapery moulded to it.

Despite the British Museum claiming that it is the best preserved Caryatid, the Greek side claims otherwise, stating that the cleaning process resulted in the changing of the colour of the statue. It is important that all the Parthenon artefacts should eventually be sent back to Athens, where they belong, reuniting therefore the whole Acropolis family.!

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