Truly, Vasil Bojkov’s collection is so rich in history and meaning, that one must experience it in person in order to fully understand its greatness. That’s why the National Gallery of Arts in Sofia held an exhibition named The Golden Fleece. Quest of the Argonauts from the 16th of March to the 10th of June. It gave people a chance not just to go and see astounding and rare artefacts, but to also go back in time and experience cultural representations from a different perspective.
One of the centerpieces showcased to the public for the very first time during the event was a silver kantharos. It portrays a scene featuring the famous Antiquity hero-king Theseus on the island of Crete. This piece in particular is dated to 440-435 BC and is of an exceptional significance for several reasons. Firstly, it shows one of the most epic and tragic myths in Greek mythology – the story of Theseus who goes to the island of Crete to kill the Minotaur and save seven Athenian boys and seven Athenian girls from being sent to and devoured by the monstrous creature.
Secondly, this artefact has grown to become especially popular and admired because of a complex collective representation featuring on it. On one of the sides of the kantharos, we see king Minos with his daughter Ariadne and the goddess of love Aphrodite accompanied by Eros. On the other side, there are the naked hero Theseus and the goddess Athena. Here’s a slight detail that makes this artefact really important. Next to the goddess stands Knossos. What appears to be a middle-aged man in the first place is in fact a far more complicated figure-representation of a town. For what is known, Knossos was the town of the island of Crete where Daedalus created his labyrinth where the Minotaur resided and was later defeated by Theseus. This little detail becomes an iconographic representation that is never really seen before in the history of art, so it quite easily catches the eye of history and cultural experts.
For what’s known and reported, Vasil Bojkov’s collection of precious archaeological artefacts from ancient times is the largest and most renowned one among similar other private collections in Bulgaria collected since the 1990’s. It consists of more than 3000 priceless pieces, 16 of which revealed for the first time during the Golden Fleeceexhibition at the National Gallery of Arts in Sofia this year. It comes as no surprise that the event attracted visitors and people from 45 different countries, all of them admiring cultural wealth and historical findings. With artefacts such as the silver kantharos with Theseus in Crete, Bojkov’s collection really offers something unique to the audience. Considered as one of the most interesting and previously unseen archaeological artefacts, the silver kantharos provides a glimpse at a mythological moment from the past, thus, allowing people and experts to go deeper and explore hidden meanings and representations never really seen before.