Title: Bell Krater by Kurashiki Painter

Location: Okayama, Kurashiki Ninagawa Museum

Date: Classical Greek, 5th century BC

Material: terracotta

Description: Dionysias seated holding thyrsus with attendant

Dionysos' Pineapple

Dionysos, a god in the Greek Pantheon, is identified in a similar fashion to other gods, by icons of dress and ornamentation. His status as the god of wine, grapes, drama and importantly fertility, an all encompassing trait, is found in the iconography. At times he is depicted riding bareback a leopard, in a chariot drawn by panthers, in a group with Ariadne, satyrs, and maenads, or alone with his attributable icons1. He also transcends different media of antiquity media, present in painting, sculpture, mosaic, and pottery.

Across the variety of depictions there is the representation of Dionysius with the thyrsus (θυρσος), a pine cone-topped fennel staff covered with ivy vines. Carried by the god and his followers in cult rituals, the pine cone is placed at the pinnacle of this arrangement, represented from solid conical mass to a sprawling a bundle of piny branches2. This construction can be interpreted as a phallic symbol, as the staff of the thyrsus is the equivalent to penis and pine cone as the seeds or sperm projecting forth. Dionysius’ symbolism as the god of fecundity and the resultant sexual connotation of the pine cone allows for the reinterpretation of the pineapple as an icon of reproductivity.

1 Z., Jonathan, William Scott, Jorunn Jacobsen, “Dionysos.” The HarperCollins Dictionary of Religion. San Francisco: HarperOne, 1995. 317.

2 Friedrich, Walter. Dionysus, Myth and Cult. Indiana: Spring Pubns, 1981. 52-54.

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My name is Brienne. While pursuing a Masters in Classics, I have also been attracted to the curation of collections. This site is a place to study the objects not often exhibited on museum walls. Taken out of storage these objects are presented afresh.