Kora, the first painter of History

Kora, the first painter of History
Isabel del Rio

by Isabel del Rio

The daughter of the potter Butades Sicyonius.

Greek Pottery

Greek Pottery

Sicyion (now Sikyon) was the birthplace of a legendary potter from the bygone Greece: Butades Sicyonius.

Dry place, like all of the Peloponnese, place of artists and writers, near the port of Corinth and its thousand nights. Today, it has still reputation for its theatre and for its cold winter which always arrives full of legends.

‘What is your name, young man?’

’What is your name, young woman?’

‘Kora, who saw you in the shadows.’

Kora, your soul is Ionic, drawn on a sea of light where once reigned the White Goddess.

Kora was the favorite daughter of Butades, the potter, and she grew up playing with the red clay and drawing finger waves on it.

We all come from the mud, we all return to him.

Kora had art in their teenager hands because she was in love. Bad times for love, have they ever been good?

Greek coin

Greek coin

There have always been wars in the Greek polis. There was always greed and wealth. Corinth was the richest of cities and their kings traded overseas with wine, oil, pottery … and illusions such as those containing in the word Art : Sicyonius Butades was an important man who really loved his daughter, Kora.

‘It is not your life what we want,’ said the king of Corinth, ‘but your pots, which fill our coffers with gold. You will always be protected by this cursed land.

There was a young man who loved Kora, he was not an artist but a simple peasant and as such, as a hoplite, he had to go to war.

Butades could not yet buy smiles to her daughter, iron and reality had begun to prevail and Apollo’s domain was replaced by Ares’ horror.

For a last time, the hoplite came to say goodbye to Kora. It happened in the shadows of a red sunset of three thousand years ago, because it happened just yesterday, and it will also happen tomorrow. Painful moments were lived in the whitewashed facade of a house which looked askance at the Sun:

‘Why do they play with your life?’

‘It’s the war he said.’

And the shadow of the young lover projected on the white wall his hard profile. Kora drew a picture of him with her stained finger: a memory, the only she would always have.

They say the soldier was killed in the battle.

Other people say he returned and married Kora.

Is it a legend or history?

Myths and legends are also true.



The Greek writer Pliny the Elder affirms in his “Natural History” that the invention of the paint was of a woman, Kora, daughter of the potter Butades Sicyonius (VII and VI century BC). Kora painted her lover’s shadow on a wall profile when he went to the war. Afterwards, his father made a tile with the drawing which kept exposed in the city until the Roman invasion, when Lucius Mummius sacked the city.




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Isabel del Rio

Managing Editor at Yareah® Magazine. Author of ‘Ariza’ (2008) and ‘The Girls of Oil’ (2010)

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