CANEPHORAE , "basket-bearers," the title given of old to Athenian maidens of noble family, annually chosen to carry on their heads baskets with sacrificial implements and apparatus at the Panathenaic and other festivals. The term (also in the form Canephori) is applied in architecture to figures of either sex carrying on their heads baskets, containing edibles or material for sacrifices. The term might well be applied to the Caryatide figures of the Erechtheum. Those represented in the Panathenaic frieze of the Parthenon carry vases on their shoulders.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)