The harvester vase, Agia Triada

Scene from a Minoan Vase, Agia Triada ("The harvester vase").

A Reconstruction of the Harvester Vase

James Baikie: The Sea-Kings of Crete:

[It] represents a procession which has been variously interpreted as a band of soldiers or marines returning in triumph from a victory, or as a body of harvesters marching in some sort of harvest thanksgiving festival. This interpretation seems, on the whole, the more probable of the two. In the middle of the procession is a figure, interesting from the fact that he is so different from his companions. He has not the usual pinched-in waist of the Cretans, but is quite normally developed, and he bears in his hand the sistrum, or metal rattle, which was one of the regular sacred musical instruments of the Egyptians. In all probability he is meant to represent an Egyptian priest, though what he is doing in a Cretan festival it is hard to tell. The three figures, possibly of women, who are following him, have their mouths wide open, and are evidently singing lustily. One of the figures, that of an elderly man, who appears to be the chief of the party, is clad in a curious, copelike garment, which may be either a ceremonial robe or a wadded cuirass. Apart from all questions of what kind of incident the artist meant to represent, the artistic value of his work is unquestionable. It has been said of this little vase that 'not until the fifth century BC. should we find a sculptor capable of representing, with such absolute truth, a party of men in motion.'

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