Painting from Haghia Triàda, 1450-1400 b.C.

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Haghia Triada

Title and date: Painting from Haghia Triàda, 1450-1400 b.C.
Author:         Unknown
Technique:      Painting on plaster
Theme:          Sacrifice to a deity


The painter of this sarcophagus found in Haghia Triàda, near Festos, on the island of Crete, is unknown. Minoan artists usually didn’t represent the humane figure as predominant among all its surrounding natural elements, but as perfectly connected to them and elegantly fitting in the whole landscape. Minoan painting followed some conventional rules, such as the use of the dark colour for the men’s skin and of the bright colour for the women’s, the frontal representation of the chest and the lateral depiction of the legs and the face. However, figures were often portrayed in movement and were not rigid like, for example, those appearing in a lot of Egyptian and Oriental artworks.
The most common themes were court life scenes, sacral ceremonies and ritual games.


This limestone sarcophagus was found in an aristocratic grave and is supposed to be used for sacred ceremonies.
The paintings around it show two ritual scenes of a sacred ceremony: a bull sacrifice to the Gods.
On the left there are two priestesses followed by a man playing a seven string lyre. The first woman is pouring the blood of the sacrificed bull into a vessel, while the other one, behind her, is carrying other two metallic vessels. The vessel is placed between two columns crowned with double axes, which were Minoan ritual symbols. On the right, in a specular scene, three men are carrying offers to the priest.
In this painting, according to the Minoan style, the figures are symmetrical and dynamic just as if they slowly moved in a ritual procession. They are flat, but, at the same time, they play a narrative and decorative role thanks to the black outlines which stress their sense of movement.
The painter used a lot of different colours; red, blue, green, different shades of brown, ochre, white, which are the colours of the earth, the sea and the sky. The way they are spread, uniformly and plainly, contributes to create lively contrasts. Elegant flower decorations frame the two ritual scenes.
The sacrifices to the Gods took place according to a precise ritual pattern and were divided into three different stages, which always followed the same order: the killing of the victim, accompanied by music, songs and perfume offers; the cutting into pieces of the sacrificed animal, which was then deprived of the blood and his bones burned together with other scents in honour of the Gods; the cooking of the animal meat, which was then eaten.
The entrails, listed by Aristotle in his essay about the animal parts, were: liver, lungs, spleen, kidneys and heart ( stomach, esophagus and intestines were not included ) and represented the most valuable parts of the sacrificed victim. They were necessarily roasted and immediately eaten still hot and flavourless on the spot; the remaining parts were boiled and consumed later on the spot or in a near restaurant or in the private houses of those people who had taken part in the ceremony and had received the cooked meat.

lamb offal cooked in oil, parsley and garlic
Main course
X 4 people
Difficulty: low

Lamb offal: heart, lung, liver, spleen, kidneys kg 1
E.V.Olive Oil g 100
Celery, carrot, onion g 300
Garlic cloves 4
Bay leaves 4
Chili pepper To taste
Chopped parsley To taste
Salt To taste
Glass of white wine 1
Broth To taste
Cloves To taste
Juniper To taste

Carefully wash the offal to remove blood remains, cut the heart and clean out.
Put everything to boil in a casserole with plenty of water, celery, carrot, onion, bay, salt, cloves and juniper. Cook for 25 minutes.
Drain and soak in fresh water and little salt.
Cut into stripes.
In a casserole, pour the oil, add garlic, bay, and chili pepper, brown and mix in the offal, sauté everything and baste with white wine, continue cooking with some ladles of broth.
Adjust salt and serve after sprinkling with chopped parsley.

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