Loutrophoroi (plural of loutrophoros) were used in marriage ceremonies to hold water. In ancient Greece, marriage was basically the transfer of a girl from one master (kyrios), her father, to another, her man. (There were no specific words in Greek for husband and wife. Aner, "man" is the word that was used where we would use "husband", and gyne, "woman" assumes that to be a woman was to be a wife.)
A loutrophoros was specially ordered by the new kyrios, the future husband in our terms, to bring water for the bride's bath. Her old life is symbolically washed away using water held in the loutrophoros, changing her status from parthenos (virgin) to gyne (woman).
Loutrophoroi were also used in funeral rites and were left at the graves of unmarried women. This Protoattic loutrophoros, ca. 680 BC, was found in Athens and is thought to be by the Analatos Painter.
H. 17 ½ in. (45 cm), Diam. 7 in. (18.4 cm)
Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons