The Grandstand Fresco, c. 1450 BC, Archaeological Museum, Herakleion, Crete
Groups of wealthy Minoan women are often depicted wearing elegant dresses, jewellery and having elaborate hairstyles that echo to a high status appearance and a competitive behaviour that is part of their strategy for maintaining social control.
The Grandstand Fresco is part of the miniature frescoes found within the Palace of Knossos and most probably depicts the tripartite shrine of the palace. The fresco approximately dates to 1450BC and it has been greatly restored by Evans.
In the Grandstand Fresco, the crowds of men and women watching some sort of a court festival differ so much from each other. The artist chooses to emphasize partly the women’s presence and superiority by creating an almost modern time rococo atmosphere contrary to the smaller size women who may be of a lower social status and to men who are all displayed in an identical manner and who give a chaotic sense that characterizes large crowds of people. The highlighted women although being fewer in number, they are the protagonists of the scene because of their large size pointing though at their importance as individuals or even members of special groups within Minoan society. Concentration on their elegant appearance besides indicating that they belong to the highest level of Minoan society, it may denote a change in the social identity of women who use the attire as their key strategy to advocate their power to similar social human groupings. Minoan female dresses are for the first time so much emphasized in the Neopalatial Period that is at a time period when woman instead of being represented as a mother (as it used to), she is depicted as an attractive mate.
Today's artwork is a generous contribution of Eleftheria Pavli, BA, MA