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Kamares style

Kamares style

THE IMPORTANCE OF KAMARES STYLE                            

Kamares style was created during the period of the establishment of the first Minoan palaces (c.1900 B.C.) and lasted for about two centuries. Centers for its production were Phaistos, Knossos and areas around Phaistos, such as Kommos.

The style is clearly a Minoan invention and is characterized by the white decoration, in combination with red and ochre colorings, set on a black background.

The individuality of Kamares style is found in its abstract motifs. Such designs appear for the first time in the Middle Minoan period. The freedom of expression of the Minoan artists, as well as the escape from dependence on their realistic environment into abstract patterns based on nature, reflects the free way of thinking in Minoan society.

The fact that we don’t find any warlike symbols in Kamares decoration, shows the peaceful attitude of the Minoans. The occasionally depicted double axe is best interpreted as a religious symbol (symbolizing the sacrifice of bulls to the Mother Goddess).

Kamares ware, also, makes obvious the Minoan worship of nature. Besides the vast variety of animals and plants depicted, the name of this style itself verifies this interpretation. Its name comes from the sacred cave of Kamares (an area near Phaistos), where this pottery was first discovered being used as votive offerings to earth gods.

The Minoans usually chose natural caves and peaks of mountains, rather than imposing temples, for their religious ceremonies. This made them feel nearer to their Mother Goddess, who was associated closely with the earth.

In almost all Kamares designs we find prominent the symmetry of the “figure-eight”(two cycles that adjoin vertically). Sir Arthur Evans, as well as A.W. Persson, believed that this design symbolizes human power and protection from heaven. I could say that it shows something that we call ”body and soul”. In Kamares ceramics we can feel the harmonious balance between the human and the heavenly.

Both delicacy and elegance of design, material, and technique are basic characteristics of all Minoan art and particularly of Kamares pottery. What is more delicate than the eggshell Kamares cups? What is more elegant than the harmonious curves of both shapes and decoration of Kamares vases?

For all these reasons we are justified in giving just a little of our attention, in order to discover what those people, who lived four thousand years ago, have to say to us down the ages.

My duty is to keep the characteristics of Minoan pottery pure and unblemished.

Vassilis Politakis