A favourite legend in the Byzantine world concerned the hero Digenis Akritas, whose exploits are recounted in an epic and in numerous songs from all parts of the Empire. A guardian of the frontiers, slayer of bears, lions and dragons, comforter of ladies in distress, Digenis appears frequently on pottery of the 12th century; his portrait may perhaps be recognized on the plate above, with the ‘blond curly hair and large, black-browed eyes’ attributed to him, in the epic.
Referenced on p16 MAA-89 Byzantine Armies 886-1118 by Ian Heath & Angus McBride:
This is taken from a Byzantine bowl of the 12th century, probably depicting the folk hero Diogenes Akritas. It is the only contemporary, or near contemporary, picture which appears to exist of the shoulder tufts mentioned in Leo VI's Tactica. It seems fairly certain that they would not normally stand upright like this, probably a result of artistic licence.