Ancient Greek
Figure of a Bird with Outstretched Wings, late 6th century B.C.
Greece, Boeotia
1 3/8 × 2 5/8 × 2 15/16 in. (3.5 × 6.7 × 7.5 cm)
3-D Object/Sculpture
1979-46 DJ

Photo: Paul Hester
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Looking as if the bird is about to take flight or having just landed, this small figure stylistically matches those produced in Boeotia in the second half of the 6th century BCE. Like other terracottas from Boeotia, the entire surface was covered in a white slip. Additionally, this piece would have been brightly painted, which is still evident in the vibrant yellow on the wing and tail feathers, and some added red details on the beak and eyes. The underside of the figure is concave with the impression comfortably fitting a thumb. One leg has been previously repaired, but otherwise the figure is intact.  

Birds were kept as pets in ancient Greece, but they could also have religious significance as omens and as symbols associated with divine figures. Terracotta representations of birds are known from both votive and funerary contexts, and they may also have functioned as toys. The function and use context of this figure is unknown.