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Encyclopedia > Caryatids
the Caryatid Porch of the Erechtheum, Athens

A caryatid is a sculpted female figure serving as an architectural element such as a column or a pillar supporting an entablature on its head.

The earliest known examples were found at Delphi, dating to about the 6th century BC. They were revived in the 19th century by neoclassical architects. Perhaps the most famous examples are those of the Caryatid Porch of the Erechtheion on the Acropolis at Athens. A full-size copy of the porch exists in the 19th century St Pancras Church in London. The Romans also copied the Erechtheion caryatids, installing copies in the Forum Augustum and the Pantheon in Rome, and Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli.

The origins of the term are unclear. It is first recorded in the Latin form caryatides by the Roman architect Vitruvius, who stated in his 1st century BC work De Architectura that the female figures of the Erechtheion represented the punishment of the women of Caryae, a town near Sparta in Laconia, which betrayed Athens in its wars with Persia. The Greek term karuatides literally means "maidens of Karuai" or Caryae.

However, female figures were used as decorative supports in Greece and the ancient Near Easy well before the Persian Wars, casting doubt on Vitruvius' explanation. Caryae had a famous temple dedicated to the goddess Artemis in her aspect of Artemis Caryatis. The Erectheion caryatids may therefore represent priestesses of Artemis.

The male counterpart of a caryatid is referred to as a telemon or Atlas. A caryatid supporting a baskets on her head is called a canephora.

External links

  • Artemis at Pantheon.org http://www.pantheon.org/articles/a/artemis.html

  Results from FactBites:
caryatid - Encyclopedia.com (1092 words)
caryatid, a sculptured female figure serving as an ornamental support in place of a column or pilaster.
It was a frequently used motif in architecture, furniture, and garden sculpture during the Renaissance, the 18th cent., and notably, the classic revival of the 19th cent., when caryatids were popular as mantelpiece supports.
Caryatid is the name given to a carved female figure which was used as...
Caryatid - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (677 words)
The Caryatid Porch of the Erechtheion, Athens, 421–407 BCE
A caryatid (also spelt Karyatid), is a sculpted female figure serving as an architectural support taking the place of a column or a pillar supporting an entablature on her head.
In modern times, the practice of integrating caryatids into building facades was revived in the later 16th century and, from the examples engraved for Sebastiano Serlio's treatise on architecture, became a fixture in the decorative vocabulary of Northern Mannerism expressed by the Fontainebleau School and the engravers of designs in Antwerp.
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