World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Archaic smile

Article Id: WHEBN0001849217
Reproduction Date:

Title: Archaic smile  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Kroisos Kouros, Kore (sculpture), Sounion Kouros, Chigi vase, Kritios Boy
Collection: Archaic Greek Art
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Archaic smile

Head of a kouros in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens bearing a typical archaic smile.

The Archaic smile was used by Greek Archaic sculptors,[1][2] especially in the second quarter of the 6th century BCE, possibly to suggest that their subject was alive, and infused with a sense of well-being. To viewers habituated to realism, the smile is flat and quite unnatural looking, although it could be seen as a movement towards naturalism. One of the most famous examples of the Archaic Smile is the Kroisos Kouros.

The dying warrior from the west pediment of the Temple of Aphaia, Aegina, Greece is an interesting context as the warrior is near death.

In the Archaic Period of Ancient Greece (roughly 600 BCE to 480 BCE), the art that proliferated contained images of people who had the archaic smile.[1][2]

Gandhara Buddha, 1st-2nd century CE

During those two centuries before the mid-5th century BCE, the archaic smile was widely sculpted, as evidenced by statues found in excavations all across the Greek mainland, Asia Minor, and on islands in the Aegean Sea.[1] It is a smile which, to some modern interpreters, suggests a feeling of happiness via ignorance.. It has been theorized that in this period, artists felt it either represents that they were blessed by the gods in their actions, thus the smile, or that it is similar to pre-planned smiles in modern photos..

The Moscophoros of the Acropolis, ca 570 BCE

The significance of the convention is not known, although it is often assumed that for the Greeks this kind of smile reflected a state of ideal health and well-being. It is best anthropological practice to assume expertise in execution of craft and to look for formal/stylistic reasons why cultural artifacts appear as they do.[3] It has also been suggested that it is simply the result of a technical difficulty in fitting the curved shape of the mouth to the somewhat blocklike head typical of Archaic sculpture.

There are alternative views to the archaic smile being "flat and quite unnatural looking". This is how John Fowles describes the archaic smile in his novel The Magus (Chapter 23): "...full of the purest metaphysical good humour [...] timelessly intelligent and timelessly amused. [...] Because a star explodes and a thousand worlds like ours die, we know this world is. That is the smile: that what might not be, is [...] When I die, I shall have this by my bedside. It is the last human face I want to see."

See also


  1. ^ a b c A Brief History of the Smile, Angus Trumble, 2005, ISBN 0-465-08779-5, p.11, Google Books link: books-google-AT11.
  2. ^ a b "Archaic smile", Britannica Online Encyclopedia, 2009, webpage: EB-Smile.
  3. ^ Middle Archaic Phase(Smile) Retrieved 24 September 2010

External links

  • The Dying Warrior from the Temple of Alphaisa
  • [2]
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.