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Male Votaries with Vegetal Wreaths and Fillets and Sculpted Votive Offerings (Classification Category or Type)
Documentation Note


The sixth century BCE witnessed an influx of Greek artistic influences into Cyprus, particularly from East Greek workshops on Samos. In Cypriot sculpture, the face softens, anatomical transitions become more smoother, and the features themselves approach more realistic proportions. At some point, the enigmatic smile of Archaic Greek sculpture is appropriated by some Cypriot sculptors (e.g., AAP-AM-1108; AAP-AM-2185; AAP-AM-2132; AAP-AM-2185; AAP-AM-4631) and this feature lingers into the CC period (e.g., AAP-AM-97; AAP-AM-850; AAP-AM-2148; AAP-AM-850). By the end of the sixth century BCE, the variation in headgear and dress witnessed in earlier male limestone votaries is replaced with a new type characterized by a Greek-style chiton/himation combination dress coupled with a vegetal wreath, which features different arrangements as well as a variety of plant species (e.g., AAP-AM-97; AAP-AM-1101; AAP-AM-2314; AAP-AM-2883, AAP-AM-1101). In some cases, attachments, like flower buds (AAP-AM-2148), are added.

The sculptures range in scale from over- life-size depictions of mature, bearded males to smaller, mass-produced, beardless types depicting younger males. This wreathed votary type dominates Cypriot sanctuaries (primarily devoted to male divinities or divine male/female pairs) from the end of the sixth century BCE well into the Roman imperial period. The wreathed type is far less common, however, with terracotta votaries of the same period. Large-scale terracotta votaries, often carrying offerings (primarily quadrupeds), usually wear the a conical helmet, not wreaths or fillets; there are a few examples of terracotta votaries wearing plain fillets or wreaths from Samos.

During this same period, starting in the CA II but especially characteristic of the transition to CC I, some under- life-size beardless males wear a simple fillet instead of a vegetal wreath (e.g., AAP-AM-1172; AAP-AM-4632). While earlier Archaic headgear (e.g., conical helmets or headcloths) is more difficult to interpret, wreathed and fillet votary types wearing wreaths and fillets seem to represent individual worshippers. In particular, ancient Greek literary sources and iconography clearly associate the wreath with religious veneration and nature’s renewal; in Cyprus, this connection between the wreath and worship seems obvious. And given the context and close association of heads wearing fillets with wreathed heads (which, in fact, include the fillet for practical reasons as the core of the arrangement), a religious interpretation is suggested in the case of this type as well.


The ritual association of statues with wreathed heads (usually combined with a chiton/himation garment) is strengthened by the addition of offerings commonly held; examples include pyxides (AAP-AM-1072), birds (AAP-AM-2800), a variety of fruits (AAP-AM-3945), phialae i (AAP-AM-4457), and branches. Animal offerings, especially goats and rams (AAP-AM-1380), are connected to sacrifices and feasting, and are usually represented held in the hand or dedicated as stand-alone representations. The terms and conditions of ancient votive offerings are best understood as an “if--then” contract of reciprocity. At the point of contact within a sanctuary or any other location of divine contact, worshippers hoped to win divine favor in times of trouble or in anticipation of things to come through offerings. It has been suggested that the statues themselves served as proxies that were instilled with the power of continual prayer before the god(s).

Suggested Citation

Derek B. Counts. (2020) "Male Votaries with Vegetal Wreaths and Fillets and Sculpted Votive Offerings". In Visualizing Votive Practice: Exploring Limestone and Terracotta Sculpture from Athienou-Malloura through 3D Models. Derek B. Counts, Erin Walcek Averett, Kevin Garstki, Michael Toumazou (Ed). Released: 2020-07-28. Open Context. <>

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