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Kouroi are life size or larger freestanding stone figures of unclothed young man striding forward They are considered today to be one of the most distinctive products of the Archaic era the period of ancient Greek history from roughly about 650 to 500 BCE In ancient Greek the word kouros plural kouroi means male youth and at least from the fifth century specifically an unbearded male Modern art historians have decided to use the term to refer to this specific type of a male nude standing with fists to its sides and left foot forward The figure that I saw is known as the Metropolitan kouros after the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City Like most craftsmen from this period we know nothing about the sculptor not even his name Like all kouroi the Met kouros is entirely freestanding That is the figure is carved on all sides We are presented with four separate or independent faces that preserve the four sides of the original marble block from which the figure was carved Moving around the figure is like turning four corners Nothing bends or curves from one side to the other This does not mean that the sculptor treats all 360 degrees of the statue equally The statues head feet and hands all point rigidly straight forward emphasizing the frontal view As a standing figure the statue is taller than it is wide The statue stands on massive feet firmly planted on a base Neither leg rises vertically The left leg strides forward and the right lags slightly behind the vertical of the torso Though geometrically and therefore visually stable the figure appears flat footed The chest contour tapers inward to the long narrow waist only to bulge again at the thighs We see that the sculptor carefully renders selective anatomical details For
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