Figureheads

Figureheads, wooden sculptures that decorated the end of the prow, were in Greek nautical tradition the ship’s emblem. Works of folk woodcarving, they were fashioned usually in the shipyards of the islands by experienced ship’s carpenters. They represent mythical maritime creatures, mermaids and religious figures. With the development of Greek shipping from the late eighteenth century they became a means of expressing the awakened national consciousness, depicting heroes of ancient Hellenic history and mythology.

The Collection, formation of which began in the early years of Museum’s operation, includes a small number of figureheads from merchant vessels of the maritime islands of the Aegean, which during the 1821 War of Independence were converted into warships and bore the brunt of the struggle at sea. Many of these are still scarred by missiles.

Among them are the figureheads of the ships Themistocles of the Tombazis brothers (built in the island of Hydra in 1812), Ares of Andreas Miaoulis (Hydra 1813), Epameinondas of Konstantinos Babas (island of Spetses 1813), Ares of Anastasios Tsamados (Venice 1818), which is known to history for its tragic exodus from the island of Sphakteria in 1825, Agamemnon of Laskarina Bouboulina (Spetses 1820), as well as the figurehead of Karteria (England 1825), the first steam-powered ship that took part in military operations.

 

GALLERY