Aryballoi functioned as oil jars and are associated with bathing by athletes in the gymnasion or palaestra. Because of its design, the aryballos could conveniently be carried on the wrist with a string or strap looped through the small handle
Corinthian-style vases are characterized by their very fine yellowish or beige-colored clay as well as by their so-called Orientalizing decorative themes, which are derived from Near Eastern artistic motifs. Most typical of Orientalizing vases are floral decoration and, especially, horizontal registers with animal friezes. Corinthian vase-painters used the black-figure technique—in which figures are painted in black silhouette, with details incised and added in white and red paint—to produce some of the earliest narrative scenes in Archaic Greek art. They excelled, in particular, in mastering the miniature picture frieze, where complex mythological stories were artfully rendered in great detail on the surfaces of small vessels.
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Figures and ornaments were painted on the body of the vessel using shapes and colors reminiscent of silhouettes. Delicate contours were incised into the paint before firing, and details could be reinforced and highlighted with opaque colors, usually white and red. The principal centers for this style were initially the commercial hub Corinth, and later Athens. Other important production sites are known to have been in Laconia, Boeotia, eastern Greece and Italy. Particularly in Italy individual styles developed which were at least in part intended for the Etruscan market. Greek black-figure vases were very popular with the Etruscans, as is evident from frequent imports. Greek artists created customized goods for the Etruscan market which differed in form and decor from their normal products. The Etruscans also developed their own black-figure ceramic industry oriented on Greek models.