Height: 26.000 cm
Room 72: Ancient Cyprus
Red Polished Ware figurine cradling a child
Cypriot, about 1975-1850 BC
A fertility charm
Though schematised, the figurine is clearly intended to be female. She holds an infant lying in an arched cradle on her left arm. Her solid form is handmade, of Red Polished Ware. She has perforated ears (one is now missing). The incised decoration around the neck and on the body also defines the facial features and suggests a decorated garment.
The human form was represented in Cypriot art from earliest times, but the first figures were rather rudimentary, with the arms and legs reduced to mere stumps. Most are of stone, though a cross-shaped series of picrolite (a soft smooth stone) became typical of the Chalcolithic era (4000/3900-2500 BC). This figurine belongs to a plank-shaped series that predominated in the years from about 2000 to 1850 BC. Most of these are similar to this example, but others have two heads or are in the form of 'combs' and 'brushes'. Many are of Red Polished Ware, but there is also a series of White Painted Ware that was the typical pottery fabric of the Middle Bronze Age (1950-1650 BC).
V. Tatton-Brown, Ancient Cyprus, 2nd ed. (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)
V. Karageorghis, The coroplastic art of ancient (Nicosia, A. G. Leventis Foundation, 1991)