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Painted terracotta figurine of a woman

  • Max Mallowan assessing finds and recording the bakshish payable

    Max Mallowan assessing finds and recording the bakshish payable

 

Height: 8.000 cm
Width: 5.080 cm

Excavated by M.E.L. Mallowan

ME 125381

Room 56: Mesopotamia

    Painted terracotta figurine of a woman

    Halaf culture, about 5000 BC
    From Chagar Bazar, north-east Syria

    Figurines like this from the Halaf period (about 5300-4800 BC), either from terracotta or unbaked clay, were probably made for magical or religious purposes.

    In this example there is a strong emphasis on the figure's thighs and breasts. Her head is missing: in other figures of this type the face is pinched out to form a large nose or chin, but is otherwise featureless. The bands of black painted on the figure may represent bracelets and anklets as well as armlets, a necklace and a broad loincloth. Further decorations on the breasts may represent body paint or tattoos.

    During the Halaf period northern Mesopotamia shared similar forms of pottery, architecture and technology, while some of the earliest farming and fishing communities were emerging in southern Mesopotamia. 

    J.E. Reade, Mesopotamia (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)

    D. Collon, Ancient Near Eastern art (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)

    M.E.L. Mallowan, 'Excavations at Chagar Bazar and an archaeological survey of the Habur Region of north Syria: 1934-5', Iraq-3, 3 (1936), p. 21, fig. 5.3

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    On display: Room 56: Mesopotamia

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