Greek pottery is one of those aspects of this magnificent culture that has become a symbol of its beautiful and, sometimes, brutal history. There is an incredibly large amount of archaeological evidence that strongly suggests that Greek pottery was one of the most popular forms of art practiced in those days. Despite the fact that most of Greece's pieces of art would stand destroyed over the years, there are still near about a 100,000 pieces of Greek pottery examples that still help us dwell on their wonderful past.
Throughout the growth of civilization, there are plenty of innovative thoughts and ideas that have been attributed to the Greeks and the thinkers amongst them. Earthenware may not exactly be the cutting edge of technology, but it still was a massive indicator of the way the people lived, thought and worked in those times. As Greek civilization grew and evolved, there were changes in their art as well. With Greek pottery being one of the most prominent forms of art at the time, it gave us a lot of insight into what we, today, also practice with our potters' wheels, in our cosy little studios.
Protogeometric Style of Greek Pottery
During 1050 to 900 BC, the Protogeometric period brought in a style that significantly displayed the fall of the palace culture from the Mycenaean times and the dark ages that followed them. Sculptures or other art forms, in this era, didn't last till our times and that meant, Greek pottery from this era was the only window we had into their world. There was a definite improvement in the way the wares were made, with styles and designs moving on from the meaningless geometric shapes to being slightly more meaningful, to put it bluntly.
They weren't just thrown on anymore, you could tell, but were painted on with a brush or with the careful use of a compass. Grave offerings, from this era, were found to be one of the richest sources of information on the Greek pottery culture in this era and from the site of Lefkandi, such findings led to the understanding of their unique techniques.
Geometric Style of Greek Pottery
A slightly older style compared to the previously mentioned, the geometric style was prevalent in the 9th and 8th century BC. This style brought geometric shapes into the world of Greek Pottery. There were triangles, circles and other patterns that were used as decorations, giving a distinct style to the works from this era. There was a lot of symmetry in the patterns as well, with uniformly identical bands of animals that alternated with bands of geometric shapes.
There was a lot of reluctance in leaving blank spaces on the wares and the Greek pottery wares, from this era, were known to have a lot of meaningless shapes thrown in to simply take up space. Humans began to appear in the patterns as well, with large funeral vases showing chariot processions of the dead. There were certain indicators along with these images, such as a diabolo-laden shield, which signified that it was the funeral of a soldier.
Such patterns were common for this era although you will find a lot of mythological characters coming into the fray as well. Homer's odyssey became quite popular as did the Iliad, and both found their way onto vases and other decorative pottery items. However, these could merely be the figment of our imagination because there was never a specific way of associating these designs with those of Greek mythology. All we had was the freedom to speculate that a shipwrecked sailor would be Odysseus, and no one else.
Orientalizing Style of Greek Pottery
During the 8th and 7th centuries BC, trade links increased with Asia and that meant, Chinese pottery items made their way into Greece. Ivory work, metal work and pottery came in from Asia-Minor, with the highly stylized artefacts of the Asian side of things bringing in a wave of new designs and influences into Greek pottery. Non-mythological animals began coming into the picture as did flowers, like the lotus, and trees. While older Greek pottery figures were mainly silhouettes, these versions had more detail.
While some of the geometrical figures were still present on the designs, most of the things took a turn towards oriental features and that led to a lot more changes in the Greek pottery scene. Line drawings became more popular with plain black and white styling also coming into the scene through the middle of the 7th century.
Greek pottery is a bundle of many different and changing cultures. This art-form has lasted for so long in such a developing and growing civilization that Greek pottery would always be open to outside influences. These three periods remain the core of Greek pottery in terms of its inception and character-development phase. Everything that followed is a mere representation of the evolution that swept through the world of Greek pottery, something that is too vast to explain in detail.