With the holidays approaching, most of us are thinking about how to surprise our family members with something more personal for Christmas. For those lacking in creativity and crafting skills, a custom mug to go with the festive orange-spiced mulled wine could be a viable option. (Perhaps the author of this post is also a bit lacking in creativity.)

The images above show a special kind of “custom mug”: a plastic vase made in Corinth at the end of the 6th century BC, which was found in Boeotia and is now in the Louvre. The pottery composition consists of a figure seated on a circular pedestal holding a drinking vessel (skyphos) in his hand. The man is naked, wearing only boots and a panther’s skin thrown over his back; he has a pointed beard and long hair, his features resemble those of a satyr. He holds the skyphos by its two handles: the amount of wine it contains would quite likely befuddle a banqueter whose squatting figure is the same size as the vessel itself… The ‘cup’ is decorated with geometric patterns around the top, bottom and on the handles, while the belly shows four horsemen and two lions: characteristic motifs of Archaic period Corinthian pottery.

The man gazes forward, and the vase painter, who carefully outlined both the eyes and the eyebrows, also added a neat moustache under the nose. There is a Greek inscription carved on the top of the right arm: ‘I belong to Kolodon’. The words #moustache and #cup might bring to mind a typical accessory of the Victorian gentleman’s stash, which became fashionable with the rising popularity of the moustache in the 1860s. Since hot afternoon teas could render even carefully combed and waxed facial hair unkempt, teacups were fitted with a china ledge that matched the shape of the moustache and protected the dignity of the moustached man – hence the aition of the moustache cup. Always drink like a gentleman! 😉

Featured in the post: plastic vase (Komastes Group, 600-575 BC) © 2019 RMN-Grand Palais (Musée du Louvre) / Tony Querrec. The customized moustache cups lined beside the Corinthian vessel once belonged to the circus founder Ringling brothers (image source: flicker. Read more about moustache cups here.

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