A caryatid is a sculpted female figure, usually clad in long robes, serving as an architectural support, taking the place of a column or pillar; their male equivalent is known as an atlas. Caryatids originated in Greek architecture, the best-known examples being on the Erechtheum, an ancient Greek temple in Athens (c. 421–406 BCE). Caryatids carrying baskets on their heads, rather than entablatures supporting a building, are known as canephorae.
Caryatids fell out of favour until their revival during the Neoclassical period of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, which returned to the forms of ancient Greece and Rome. A well-known example of caryatids from that period can be seen at St Pancras church London (1819–1822), modelled on those from the Erechtheum.