Hydria: A Legacy of Clay Art

hydria griega

The hydria is a ceramic vessel from ancient Greece, notable for its rounded shape and three handles. Used to store and transport water, it stands out in Greek art for its decorations that reflect mythology and daily life, being a valuable testimony of Hellenic culture and artistic skill.

The Hydria, more than just a vessel of ancient Greece

These objects of the ceramics of ancient Greece are a testimony to the skill and artistry of a civilization that still captivates us today. You can see below the time of its use and how it evolved.

Its presence in museums and collections tells us of a past where functionality met aesthetics in an almost magical way.

Origins and Function

Originally used to transport and store water, the hydria was a common fixture in every Greek household.

Art and Narrative

Hydrias were not only utilitarian, but canvases where artists narrated stories, myths and everyday scenes.

Unique Design:

With three handles and a robust body, its design optimized both handling and storage capacity.

You can see below the structure of the 3 handles of this beautiful piece made by Ancient Greek Ceramic:

A mirror of Greek society

Hydrias, beyond their functionality, were a reflection of life in ancient Greece. They were commonly used by women, which gives us clues about the gender roles of the time. Each hydria tells a story not only of those who created it, but of those who used it in their daily lives.

Where does the term Hydria come from?

The term “hydria” or “hydria” comes from the ancient Greek ὑδρία (hydría), which is derived from ὕδωρ (hýdor), meaning “water”. This name is directly related to the main function of the vessel I commented on earlier, which was to store and transport water. It therefore took the name in reference to its most common use in everyday life in ancient Greece.


Buy unique Greek reproductions

Fortunately, there are artisans who make reproductions identical to the classical works of art that were made in ancient Greece and are only found in museums, making them affordable.

Difference with other typical containers used in Greece

The hydria is distinguished from other typical Greek pottery vessels by its specific form and function. Here are some comparisons with other types of Greek vessels:

Amphora: With its elongated body and two large handles on the neck, was mainly used to store and transport wine or oil. Unlike the hydria, the amphora has a narrower neck and handles that facilitate its transport over long distances.

Krater: The also named kratera, a wide-mouthed vessel with a large body, was used to mix wine and water. This vessel is wider and less suitable for transport compared to the hydria, which is narrower and taller.

Lekythos: This type of vessel was characterized by a narrow, elongated body and a single handle, was mainly used to contain oils, especially funerary oils. The hydria, with its more robust body and three handles, differed in its use and design.

Oenochoe: It was a small wine jug with a single handle and a pouring spout. Unlike the hydria, which is designed to store and transport large quantities of water, the oinochoe is smaller and used for serving liquids.

Pyxis: A small container with a lid, often used to store jewelry or personal items. Unlike the hydria, which is a large container for liquids, the pyx is smaller and intended for the storage of solid objects.

Each of these vessels reflects a different facet of daily life in ancient Greece, with designs tailored to their specific functions. The hydria, with its optimized design for storing and transporting water, occupies a unique place in this spectrum of ceramic utensils.

Time of use of the Hydria

Hydria was manufactured and used mainly during the time of ancient Greece, especially in the period from the 8th century BC to the 4th century BC. This period corresponds to the Archaic Age, the Classical period and part of the Hellenistic period of Greek history.

During the Archaic Age or archaic Greece (approximately 800-500 B.C.), hydrias began to be produced with different decorative styles, including the black and red figures that are emblematic of Greek pottery.

In the Classical period (approximately 500-323 B.C.), the hydria continued to be a popular vessel, with refinements in its design and decoration. Artists of this period often depicted mythological and everyday scenes with great detail and skill.

Towards the end of the Classical period and during the Hellenistic period (323-31 B.C.), the production of hydria underwent changes in styles and preferences, adapting to the new trends and tastes of the time.

It is important to note that hydria was not only used in Greece, but its use spread to other regions of the Mediterranean influenced by Greek culture, including southern Italy and other parts of the Hellenistic world.

We hope you liked this post. It will help us if you share it on social networks .

Related publications:

Scroll to Top