A loutrophoros - Greek : loutroforos, from loutron loutron "bathwater" and phero "carry" - is a distinctive type of Greek pottery vessel characterized by an elongated neck with two handles. The loutrophoros was used to hold water during marriage and funeral rituals, and was placed in the tombs of unmarried women. The loutrophoros itself is a motif for Greek tombstones, either as a relief (for instance, the lekythos on the Stele of Panaetius) or as a stone vessel.
It is a very tall vessel with a funnel-shaped neck, set on a slender, elongated body. The foot is spreading and sometimes has no bottom. The handles reach from the shoulder to just below the lip, forming a large loop. These handles may be filled and pierced or just a plain strap. This vessel also appears in a hydria form with a third handle also reaching from the shoulder to the lip zone.
The term oinochoe - pl. oinochoai; Greek oinos - wine and cheo - I pour - is appropriate to this shape and illustrations of it in use, and appears to have been used in antiquity. It is a single-handled vessel, usually taller than it is wide. Beazley identified ten types, based on variations of profile, mouth-type - such as trefoil (like an ivy leaf), round or beaked - and handle-form. One such is the chous (pl. choes), a plump shape with a smooth profile and trefoil mouth. Miniature versions are often found in children's graves, invariably decorated with scenes involving young children. They were probably used in Athens during the Anthesteria in the drinking competition. On the second day of the festival, named Choes, the newly-opened wine was drunk.
An old shape, with precursors in the eighth century, the hydria (pl. hydriai; compare Greek hudor - water) is a water-jar with three handles, two for carrying and one for pouring. The application of the name to the shape is reasonably certain, although such vessels were not only used for the carrying of water. We know, for example, that hydriai held votes in ballots and ashes in cemeteries. The hydria is found in a variety of forms in black- and red-figure, as well as in metal. In early black-figure, examples are round-bodied, with horizontal handles about halfway up. By the mid-sixth century, the sharply-shouldered type has been developed, often decorated in three zones - the shoulder, the body and the predella. Examples are found in red-figure as well as black-, but the more typical red-figure shape is round-shouldered. It was invented in the late-sixth century, and over the course of fifth and fourth centuries becomes slimmer, and its handles more tightly curled. The Greek term kalpis (pl. kalpides) is often used today for this version, although it is not clear whether it had the same association in antiquity.
The olpe (pl. olpai) is distinguished today from oinochoai. It is tall in relation to its breadth, with a smooth profile and a high handle. Examples occur from early on in black-figure. The name is ancient, but there seems to be little basis for applying it to this particular form. The 'oinochoe of Type 8' may also be called a mug in modern literature, after its spoutless rim and short size, and may have been used for drinking. Like other oinochoe-types, it may also have served as a measure.