The Ajax Painter | Aryballos (perfume jar)

The Ajax Painter | Aryballos (perfume jar)

Date ca. 690-675 BCE

Movement GreekMiddle Proto-Corinthian IA

Medium Ceramic

Dimensions height 2.875″, diameter 1.75

Housed at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


The animal frieze atop this vase hearkens back to the Dipolyn Vase, but the inclusion of imaginary creatures is a prime indicator of a Near Eastern influence as well. So, too, is the mythical narrative spread across the vase’s body; Zeus, or perhaps Herakles, wrestles a centaur; given the wine vase on the vase’s opposite side, this could be a drunken brawl.


Though the vase is small, the potter was able to create exceptional detail in the figures by applying a black slip and cutting through to the vase itself. Perfume jars such as these would have been placed in tombs as burial gifts for the dead.