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kanēphoroi


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Were usually young women who bore baskets or vessels in religious processions. In the Panathenaic procession (see panathenaea) the young women were required to be of good family, unmarried, and of unsullied reputation; hence ‘to be fit to carry the basket’ is to live chastely, and to reject a candidate was a grave insult. Serving as a kanephoros was thus a mark of prominence. They were splendidly dressed; hair and garments were decked with gold and jewels; they were powdered with white barley‐flour and wore a chain of figs. They carried vessels of gold and silver, which contained all things needed in the sacrificial ceremony: first‐fruits, the sacrificial knife, barley‐corns, and garlands. The sacred utensils were kept in the Pompeion, the ‘procession house’. The institution was very old, and its object was doubtless to secure the efficacy of the sacrificial materials by letting them touch nothing that was not virginal and therefore lucky and potent.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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