A kouros (plural kouroi) is a statue of a male youth, dating from the Archaic Period of Greek sculpture (about 650 BC to about 500 BC). The earliest kouroi were made of wood and have not survived, but by the seventh century the Greeks had learned from the Egyptians the art of carving stone with iron tools, and were making kouroi from stone, particularly marble from the islands of Paros and Samos. Modern art historians have used the word to refer to this specific type of male nude statue since the 1890s.
Kouroi were also commonly known as “Apollos,” since it was believed that all kouroi depicted Apollo. The Ancient Greek word kouros meant a male youth, and is used by Homer to refer to young soldiers. From the fifth century the word connoted specifically an adolescent, beardless male, but not a child. Archaic kouroi were created at a time when Greece was under the cultural influence of Ancient Egypt, as can be seen by their characteristic frontal rigid pose, reminiscent of statues of Egyptian kings.Order now
Greeks would have seen such statues when visiting Egypt as merchants or mercenary soldiers hired by Egyptians. Kouroi nearly always stand with their arms hanging straight at their sides fingers curved, thumb foremost, although a few show one arm extended forward from the elbow, holding an offering. Like their kingly Egyptian prototypes, the kouros figures are often in the act of striding forward, head erect, eyes front, a faint smile (the “archaic smile”) on their lips.