Bronze epichysis with horse hoof finishing element on the handle

Bronze epichysis horse hoof handle featured

This bronze oinochoe, also referred to as epichysis, was reportedly created in the Thracian era. Now, the artefact is part of the impressive Vassil Bojkov Collection that consists of over 3000 pieces, deriving from different epochs and places. The epichysis in question matches the descriptions of the type 6 in Beazley’s classification of clay oinochoae.

An interesting fact is that Vasil Bojkov possesses eight vases of similar shape in total. This one, in particular, is made with a trefoil shaped mouth, with the front lobe larger than the other two. This creates a feeling of disproportion that contradicts the seemingly plain design and look of the ancient artefact. The body of the piece is finished by hammering with a centering dot underneath the bottom, while the cast handle was attached to the rim by a rivet. Now, though, the rivet is missing, which leaves a hole through the attachment. Following the length of the handle, we can see that it extends over the mouth and it has the vague shape of an abstract snake head. Something that is added on as an intriguing detail is the horse hoof on the lower end of the handle. It has been skilfully soldered at the shoulder’s edge.


Bronze epichysis with horse hoof

Bronze epichysis with horse hoof

Despite the fact that all of the pieces in Bojkov’s collection illustrate how this culture had evolved over time, the inspiration and the idea behind them come from different locations. This one originates from Etruria. This is the place where the gifted toreuts created, for the first time, the shape of the spouted oinochoe. They are usually seen with a conical shoulder and straight lower walls that are inwardly tapering. The time they became popular is considered to be around the last quarter of the 6th century BC.

Examples of epichysis exist in Athens as well, where the Athenian Kerameikos imitated the shape discussed above during the first quarter of the 5th century. However, the production of such pieces is recorded to have stopped between 420 and 410 BC. Exemplars were also found in Macedonia and Thrace. Some of their characteristics include heavier proportions, straight walls, raised ring bases on the bottom, and limited decoration under the lower attachment of the handle. Typically in the shape of a cardium shell.


Bronze epichysis handle

Bronze epichysis handle

Later on, the shape evolves even further to become slimmer. The walls also become concave during the first half of the 4th century BC. Pieces from this period are distinguished thanks to the heads of mythological creatures and animals that begin to appear. They are placed on the lower, or both ends, of the handle.

This bronze epichysis, part of Bojkov’s collection, is an example of the earliest Attic craftsmanship that experiments with metal in this particular shape. What is interesting is the fact that the horse hoof is not a typical element attached on handles. However, it is seen on tripods that support Etruscan types of candelabras and on a small Archaic tripod used for supporting an aryballoid chytridion from Chios.

Vassil Bojkov’s epichysis dates back to 420-400 BC.


About the author Iliyana Ivanova is a journalist and historian born in Bulgaria but currently based in London, UK. She has studied at Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski and graduated from the Faculty of History with a BA in Archeology and MA in Ancient History and Thracian Studies. Throughout the years, Iliyana has organized various cultural and historical events back in Bulgaria with the idea to reveal little-known-information about the ancient world of Thrace. She continues her practice in the UK as well with the main goal to promote the history and ancient treasures of Bulgaria. Currently, her main focus is one of the most fascinating private collections of Thracian artefacts – that of the philanthropist and collector Vasil Bojkov. Her personal blog contains articles about the pieces owned by Vasil Bojkov, their meaning to her country and the world, his personal life, and all the deeds, charity events, and exhibitions initiated by him.

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