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Marble figurine of a woman

Marble figurine of a woman

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Height: 49.000 cm

Gift of Viscount Strangford

GR 1863.2-13.1 (Sculpture A 17)

Room 11: Cycladic Islands

    Marble figurine of a woman

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    Marble figurine of a woman

    Early Bronze Age, about 2600-2400 BC
    From the Cyclades, Aegean Sea

    The Early Bronze Age inhabitants of the Cyclades made marble figurines of this type between about 2700 and 2400 BC. Though a few male figures are known, as well as rare musician figures, they are usually female and naked with folded arms. Their heads have no features apart from a sculpted nose, though facial features were often originally added in paint. The elongated crown of the head was also frequently painted, perhaps to indicate a hairstyle or headdress. The arms are folded, the right always underneath the left, and the feet point downwards, so that they are designed either to lie down, or to be propped up or perhaps carried.

    The care and time taken to produce these figures, in marble rather than some softer material, and in a well-defined form that was maintained over centuries, suggests that they were important to the people who made and used them. They probably had religious significance and are unlikely to have been dolls or toys. Most come from graves, though they have also been found in settlements. They perhaps had some use in the rituals of the living before accompanying their owners to the grave.

    J.L. Fitton, Cycladic art, 2nd ed. (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)

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    On display: Room 11: Cycladic Islands

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