Rahul Sharma (Editor)

Stag Hunt Mosaic

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Stag Hunt Mosaic

The Stag Hunt mosaic (c. 300 BCE) by Gnosis is a mosaic from a wealthy home of the late 4th century BC, the so-called "House of the Abduction of Helen" (or "House of the Rape of Helen"), in Pella, the capital of the Macedonian Kingdom. It is now in the Archaeological Museum of Pella.



The emblema is bordered by an intricate floral pattern, which itself is bordered by stylized depictions of waves. The mosaic is a pebble mosaic with stones collected from beaches and riverbanks which were set into cement. As was perhaps often the case, the mosaic does much to reflect styles of painting. The light figures against a darker background may allude to red figure painting. The mosaic also uses shading, known to the Greeks as skiagraphia, in its depictions of the musculature and cloaks of the figures. This along with its use of overlapping figures to create depth renders the image three dimensional.

It is often wondered if Gnosis, whose signature ("Gnosis epoesen", i.e. Gnosis created) is the first known signature of a mosaicist, could have been the painter of an earlier picture which the mosaic reproduces, rather than the mosaic-setter. In the case of pottery, 'epoesen' referred to a maker of the pot while 'egraphsen' was the verb used to designate the painter. Therefore, if an analogy to pottery is warranted, it seems likely for Gnosis to have been a mosaicist. Since gnosis (Greek: γνῶσις) is also the Greek word for knowledge, others have said the inscription does not refer to an author at all; but to an abstract noun.

The Figures

The figure on the right is possibly Alexander the Great due to the date of this mosaic along with the depicted upsweep of the hair. Pella is also the birthplace of Alexander. The figure to the left wields a double-headed axe, likely alluding to Hephaistos; meaning the figure depicted could be the general Hephaestion. The dog depicted is possibly Peritas accompanying Alexander.


Stag Hunt Mosaic Wikipedia