The Met Kouros: Naked Nudie

Did you ever wonder why male figures in ancient Greek art are almost always nude?  You probably didn’t.  It’s something that we all take for granted, but it really is a curious thing.

This is a famous sculpture because it is one of the oldest free-standing sculptures of a human from Ancient Greece.  It’s a sculpture of a youth (a kouros) and it probably functioned as a grave marker since the stance is nearly identical to ancient Egyptian funerary sculptures, which would have had the same function.  But why no clothes?

No one knows for sure, but it is likely that the nudity demonstrated the status of the individual, who is a male from the elite class.  Only these men could compete in the Olympic games, which they did without any clothes possibly to bare their souls to appease the Greek Gods Zeus and Pelops.

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