Handmade coloured statue of a Caryatid, a sculpted female figure used to support buildings instead of a column, as a decorative pillar. The most renowned building, which is substructured by the Caryatids is the Erechtheion (or Erechtheum) of the Acropolis.Caryatids are sometimes called Korai (“maidens”). Overall, Caryatid is the name given to an architectural column which takes the form of a standing female figure. The term Caryatid first appears in the 4th century BC and was coined by Vitruvius in reference to the area of Karyai in Laconia, where women often danced balancing a basket on their heads, in honour of Goddess Artemis, and were used in Archaic architecture as well. They were an evolution of the earlier Korai statues of both male and female figures, prevalent throughout the Archaic period and used as columns in the Ionian architecture. The Archaic Caryatids were usually used in the entrances of treasury buildings which were built to house offerings from specific states at religious sanctuaries such as Delphi and Olympia. The most important treasury at Delphi was from the Siphnians (525 BC) and this and at least two other Treasuries had Caryatids. Caryatids of that period, often have a short column drum above their head in order to facilitate the join of the column top. The porch of the Erechtheion stands over what was believed to be the tomb of the mythical King of Athens, Cecrops, and perhaps the Caryatids and their libation vessels are a tribute to him. Needless to say, that the most famous Caryatids are the six which support the roof of the porch of the Erechteion on the Athenian Acropolis. Last but not least, similar figures, bearing baskets on their heads, are called canephores (from kanēphoroi, “basket carriers”); which represent the maidens who carried sacred objects in commemoration of ceremonies dedicated to gods.
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