Uda Devi was a warrior, one of the fiercest, in 19th century India when the call for independence from the British was being led by some of the most powerful voices of women in history. Marking Dalit History Month, we take a look at Uda Devi’s life and times as an icon of Dalit influence and female inspiration.
When the first war of independence of 1857 is brought up, in either historical reminiscence or discourse exchange, the name of the woman warrior thrown up most is Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi. But leaders like Uda Devi, whose contributions to the resistance remain unparalleled, deserve equal space, celebration and recognition in both history and public consciousness.
Hailing from Awadh in an India then ruled over by the British East India Company, Uda Devi was committed to the end of colonial administration that, since gaining a stronghold in the country from the 18th century, had come to symbolise foreign oppression, extortion and exploitation.
Given her location in the whereabouts of where the 1857 mutiny began and shaped over three consecutive years, Uda Devi was present right at the heart of the first fight for independence. She partook in the resistance as a frontline warrior, leading an impressive and accomplished women’s battalion under her command.
She, along with her Dalit sister soldiers from the 1850s such as Jhalkaribai and Mahabiri Devi, are today commemorated as veeranginis (female warriors of valour) and looked up at as upholders of justice, equality and resilience.
Uda Devi: A Look At The Veerangini‘s Life And Cause
The social milieu of Uda Devi was, in fact, a constitution of feminist power. She belonged to the vicinity ruled by Begum Hazrat Mahal, the second wife of Awadh’s last ruler Wajid Ali Shah. Moved to action with the growing unrest of the 1850s, Uda Devi approached the queen with an intent to get enlisted for the nearing war.
Armed with courage, ammunition and an army of women behind her, Uda Devi led her battalion into the Battle of Sikandar Bagh in 1857. Historians note this particular battle for being one of the most significant and “fiercest” ones in Lucknow during the revolt.
She fought valiantly and, it is said most ferociously in the aftermath of her husband and army soldier Makka Pasi’s death in the war. Her own death reportedly came when British soldiers shot down a sniper, later identified to be her.
In Recent Times
In records, the Pasi caste – identified as members of the Dalit community present predominantly in Uttar Pradesh – have professed commitment to keeping the late icon’s legacy alive. November 16 is marked as her death anniversary, a day for hailing and remembering Uda Devi’s resistance to both oppression and patriarchy.
A statue of Uda Devi stands tall at Sikandar Bagh in Lucknow, where the warrior icon looks upon the city with a stance and weapon ready to engage in combat.
In 2018, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) reportedly proposed the construction of a 100-feet tall statue of Uda Devi. However, political experts have commented this move was aimed less at historical revival and Dalit women’s recognition, and more at voter appeasement.
Pygmalion and Galatea in Context
The myth of Pygmalion and Galatea reflects the ancient Greek view of the ideal wife. Pygmalion's statue is beautiful and without voice or opinion. Even after the statue comes to life, she is only described as blushing at Pygmalion's kiss and giving birth to his child. She does not perform any other actions beyond these simple duties—a reflection of the ancient Greek ideal in a society dominated by men. The myth of Pygmalion also reflects ancient Greek and Roman achievements in sculpture: at the time they were created, the works of Greek and Roman sculptors were arguably the most lifelike representations of the human form ever crafted. Without this crucial quality, it is unlikely that the myth of Pygmalion would have been as popular as it was. In fact, the myth itself can be viewed as a celebration of such artistic achievement.
Different Readings Of Pygmalion And Galatea
Trompe L’ Oeil And Animism
Still Life with Grapes and a Bird, Antonio Leonelli (da Crevalcore), ca. 1500–1510, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The myth of Pygmalion and Galatea perfectly encapsulates one of ancient art’s primary objectives the mimesis of nature. For Greek and Roman art, and artwork ought to copy nature as closely as possible. This pursuit of reality became an obsession for ancient artists who attempted to create illusions of reality that deceived the eye, Trompe L’ Oeil. A famous example was the Greek painter Zeuxis who painted grapes, so life-like, that birds tried to peck them.
In that regard, Pygmalion’s myth fulfills art’s promise. Pygmalion was so talented that he could make his art appear as if it was not art but reality. As Ovid writes, “his art concealed his art”. Just like the Greeks aspired, Pygmalion did not simply perfectly reproduce nature. He improved on it by creating a perfect form that did not exist in nature.
Love Animating Galatea, the Statue of Pygmalion, Henry Howard, ca. 1802, Victoria and Albert Museum.
It is also worth mentioning that Pygmalion and Galatea also perfectly fit into the animistic nature of the Greco-Roman religion.
People in antiquity saw life everywhere around them. From the trees to the rivers, and from the stars to their statues, everything was alive. Especially cult statues were not thought of being representations of the gods but rather the gods themselves. After understanding this idea, it is not really difficult to see where Pygmalion’s myth is coming from.
This animistic tradition is also connected with a wider classical tradition of sentient statues and automata. Daedalus, the legendary inventor, gave voice to his statues using quicksilver, Pandora was made of clay, and Hephaestus created automata (self-operating machines/robots) like Talos.
Galatea’s Free Will
It is clear that Galatea could feel as Pygmalion could. What is not clear though, is whether she had free will. In Ovid, Pygmalion and Galatea get married but there is no actual evidence that Galatea was free to act as she pleased. She appears to be more like an extension of Pygmalion’s will. In fact, she does not even say a single word. It is evident that, though human, she is not standing on equal grounds with her creator but that may have more to do with the next section.
A Feminist Reading Of Pygmalion And Galatea
Pygmalion and Galatea, Jean-Léon Gérôme, ca. 1890, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Even though this is clearly a tale about love and the love for creating this is not the myth of the love of Pygmalion and Galatea. It is a myth about Pygmalion’s love.
From the get-go, it is crystal clear that Ovid is exploring a male fantasy. This fantasy stands within the boundaries of femininity as defined by the patriarchal standards of the time.
Pygmalion is disgusted by the immorality of the Propoitides, who are common prostitutes. It is implied that Pygmalion sees in the Propoitides something that is natural in all women and for that reason he chooses to isolate himself.
The complete opposite of the Propoitides is Galatea. She embodies the patriarchal ideal of the perfect woman. Galatea is beautiful beyond imagination and shows no signs of sexuality. While the Propoitides never blushed or felt shame, Galatea’s first act as a human is to blush and shy away. The Propoitides refused Aphrodite showing fierce independence that defied even the gods, Galatea is created by Aphrodite herself and is obedient. She is also passive whereas the Propoitides are active and artificial where they are natural.
Agalmatophilia In Pygmalion And Galatea
Pygmalion and Galatea, Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1890, private collection, via Christie’s.
With the term agalmatophilia, 20th-century scientists described the sexual attraction for a statue but also a doll or a mannequin. Pygmalionism is a form of agalmatophilia which entails love for someone’s own creation.
Clement of Alexandria was a Christian author of the 2nd century CE who used the myth of Pygmalion and Galatea to advocate against the ancient religion. Clement argued in his Exhortation to the Greeks (4, page 130) that the cult of images like statues of gods led to immoral and unnatural behavior.
“We must, then, approach the statues [of the gods] closely as we possibly can in order to prove from their very appearance that they are inseparably associated with error. For their forms are unmistakably stamped with the characteristic marks of the daimones (spirits).”
Clement drew from a tradition claiming that the statue was in fact an image of Aphrodite. Clement also added other examples of men trying to have intercourse with statues and cult images.
This critique of classical art’s attempt to reproduce and improve nature became a significant part of the Christian ideology that went after idealism. This tradition influenced Christian art for centuries especially in the eastern half of the Roman Empire which came to be known as the Byzantine Empire.
Pygmalion and the Image Series – The Hand Refrains (left), The Godhead Fires (middle), The Soul Attains (right), Edward Burne-Jones, 1878, Birmingham Museums.
The story of Pygmalion and Galatea is one of the most popular classical myths ever told. In the myth, Pygmalion, a Cypriot sculptor, falls in love with his statue, Galatea. In the end, Aphrodite, the goddess of love, fulfills his wish and makes the statue real. Pygmalion’s myth has influenced countless literary adaptations and inspired countless works of art. It remains a fascinating myth about the power of love and artistic creation.
Remembering Annie Moore, Ellis Island’s First Immigrant
While New York City ushered in the arrival of 1892 with the peals of church bells and the screeching of horns, American dreams danced in the head of a 17-year-old Irish girl anchored off the southern tip of Manhattan. Along with her two younger brothers, the teenager had departed Queenstown, Ireland, on December 20, 1891, aboard the steamship Nevada to start a new life in a new land. After spending 12 days, including Christmas, at sea, the girl from Ireland’s County Cork was just hours away from reuniting with her parents and two older siblings after spending the past four years apart.
Statue of Annie Moore and her brothers, the first of 17 million Irish to be processed at Ellis Island. The sculpture is located on Cobh, Ireland. (Credit: Jan Butchofsky/Getty Images)
Nevada had arrived too late on New Year’s Eve to be processed, which meant its third-class passengers would be the first to pass through the newly built federal immigration station on Ellis Island, which had previously been used as a gunpowder storage facility for the U.S. Navy.
At 10:30 a.m. on New Year’s Day, a flag on Ellis Island was dipped three times as a signal to transport the first boatload of immigrants. A chorus of foghorns, clanging bells, steam whistles and cheers serenaded a barge adorned with red, white and blue bunting as it ferried Nevada’s steerage passengers to the dock at Ellis Island in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.
The brown-haired Irish teenager was the first to bound down the gangplank with her brothers in tow. She entered through the enormous double doors of the cavernous three-story wooden building, described as “little more than a big business shed” by the New York Tribune, and skipped two steps at a time up the main staircase. Turning to her left, the girl was ushered into one of 10 aisles and up to a tall lectern-like registry desk.
“What is your name, my girl?” asked Charles Hendley, a former Treasury Department official who had requested the honor of registering the new station’s first immigrant.
𠇊nnie Moore, sir,” replied the Irish girl.
Ellis Island’s first building.
Wielding his pen over a fresh piece of paper, Hendley inked Moore’s name and those of her brothers, Anthony and Philip, along with their ages, last place of residence and intended destination on the first page of the first registry book. Annie was then escorted into the next room where former congressman John B. Weber, federal superintendent of immigration for the port of New York, gave her a ten-dollar gold piece and wishes for a Happy New Year. A Catholic chaplain blessed her and gave her a silver coin, while another bystander slipped her a five-dollar gold piece before she passed into the waiting room and the arms of her parents. Over the course of the next 62 years, more than 12 million immigrants would follow in the teenager’s footsteps through Ellis Island, and it’s estimated that 40 percent of the country can trace its origins back to the immigration station in New York Harbor.
Why Moore was the first of the 107 immigrants in Nevada’s steerage to be processed at Ellis Island is not known. In one story, an Italian gave up his place at the front of the line after seeing her in tears. In another, a large German man had one foot on the gangplank when a sailor held him back and called out “Ladies First!” while pushing Moore ahead.
As Tyler Anbinder notes in his new book, 𠇌ity of Dreams: The 400-Year Epic History of Immigrant New York,” Irish immigrants such as Moore composed just a small portion of the passengers aboard Nevada. Although there were twice as many immigrants from southern and eastern Europe—primarily Italian and Russian Jewsoard the ship as those from western Europe, an English-speaking, “rosy-cheeked” Irish lass was a typecast poster child for immigration at a time when Irish immigrants had already risen to the heights of American political and cultural life. Always seeking a good story, newspapers reported that Moore’s birthday was fortuitously on January 1. It wasn’t, and she wasn’t 15 as newspapers also reported𠅊lthough Moore may have given that age herself to save money on the passage.
Following her brief moment of notoriety, Moore dissolved into oblivion. Not until decades after her death and the closure of Ellis Island was her memory resurrected as the immigration station underwent the largest historic restoration in U.S. history during the 1980s. Moore became the public face of the immigrants who had passed through Ellis Island, but it turned out that the face put forward was a case of mistaken identity.
For years it was thought that Moore had married a descendant of the Irish nationalist Daniel O𠆜onnell, moved to New Mexico and met a tragic end in a 1923 streetcar accident in Fort Worth, Texas, that left her five children orphaned. For years, the woman’s descendants were invited to ceremonies at both Ellis Island and Ireland.
Annie Moore statue, Ellis Island. (Credit: Richard T. Nowitz/ Getty Images)
It was discovered in 2006, however, that the Annie Moore who died in the streetcar accident was born and raised in the United States. Genealogist Megan Smolenyak and New York City’s commissioner of records, Brian Andersson, found that the Annie Moore who passed through Ellis Island lived her entire life in a few square blocks on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. “She had the typical hardscrabble immigrant life,” Smolenyak told the New York Times in 2006. Moore married Joseph Augustus Schayer, a German-American who worked at the Fulton Fish Market, and gave birth to at least 10 children, five of whom died before the age of three. The family had enough money for a family plot, but Moore’s children were buried without headstones, as was she after her death from heart failure in 1924 at the age of 50. Moore was an enormous woman, and according to family lore her casket was too big to squeeze down the narrow apartment staircase, so it had to be transported out of a window.
The massive wooden immigration station that Moore passed through in 1892 was completely consumed by a fire on June 15, 1897. The blaze was not lethal, but it destroyed the collection of leather-bound registry books listing every immigrant who had landed in New York City since 1855, including the name of Annie Moore. Today, a pair of statues of Moore and her brothers stand at the Irish port of Cobh (the present-day name of Queenstown) and on Ellis Island, where their trans-Atlantic journey began and ended.
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Third-Century AD Statue of Woman Unearthed in Ancient Greek City of Perge
The statue of a female discovered on July 27 in Perge, Antalya, Turkey.
The world has yet another archaeological treasure to study and admire this week as a statue created in the 300’s AD was unearthed on Monday in the Turkish province of Antalya, near the ancient city of Perge.
Believed to have been made around the year 300 AD, during the time of the Roman Empire, the exquisite piece of sculpture portrays a woman in floor-length robes. Her head has been broken off but it survives.
The ancient city was known to have had females in its administration. It is unknown, however, at this point, just who is depicted in the sculpture.
The Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s excavation department triumphantly announced the amazing find today, stating “First sculpture of 2020 found in Perge excavations,” in a tweet.
According to the Ministry, Sedef Cokay Kepçe, an archaeology professor at Istanbul University, is heading up the excavations which unearthed the stunning find. The plans are currently to display the third-century statue in the Antalya Museum when all the necessary cleaning on the piece has been completed.
The area has always been known for its wealth of sculpture, according to UNESCO.
The ancient Greek city of Perge has been the site of systematic excavations beginning in 1946 the area was included on UNESCO’s Tentative Heritage list in 2009 for its great historical significance.
Missing Sister of “Kalymnos Lady” Statue Discovered on Aegean Seabed
Headless Bronze Statue found by fishermen in Turkey this week. Credit: Hurriyet
A headless bronze statue dating from the Hellenistic times, weighing 300 kg (661 pounds) and measuring six feet in height, was caught by Turkish fishermen recently off the coast of Marmaris (Physkos), near Bodrum.
Pulling out the statue from a depth of 50 meters (164 feet) was not an easy job Turkish daily Hurriyet reports, and it required ropes to lift and get it on a boat’s deck.
A report from Arkeofili stated that the fishermen had been dredging the bottom at when they sensed that the net had become unusually heavy.
When they lifted their net they were astonished to find the enormous bronze figure of a woman which in many respects resembles the “Kyra of Kalymnos,” or the Lady of Kalymnos, which was discovered in 1995 off the Greek island and is how housed in the local museum.
Lady of Kalymnos.Bronze statue(detail)of a female figure in a chiton and a fringed himation.Hellenistic,2nd c.BC. pic.twitter.com/uEzSK4zd39
&mdash Ioannis Tz (@tzoumio) August 10, 2018
The statue was lifted out of the boat’s hull and was placed onto a vehicle by crane once on land. She was then handed over to the Marmaris Museum Directorate for examination and identification.
The fishermen who are said to have “caught” the statue duly informed the Marmaris Coast Guard District Command team by radio after they brought the statue onto their craft.
A team from the Marmaris Museum Directorate was then able to make an on-site examination of the find.
Bronze statue brought up by fishermen from the waters near Marmora, Turkey. Credit: Hurriyet
Marmaris Museum Directorate officials have remained mum about the incredible find, saying only that they would have an official statement after the statue was thoroughly examined.
Similar sculptures, of the type of the “Megali Irakliotissa” have been found in that area previously and were a common sight in Greek cities in Hellenistic times. Like that statue, the new bronze is of a female wearing a tunic and a headdress.
The Lady of Kalymnos is of a similar size, measuring 1.95 meters high. Like the recent find, she was also dredged up from the bottom by fishermen parts of a statue depicting a man on a horse were also found near her at that time.
At least, that is the official line. The new supposed find throws not only the new statue but the Lady of Kalymnos into question as well, since some say that she was actually found in Asia Minor.
Nikos Kaltsas, the former director of the National Archaeological Museum, reportedly once said during a meeting of the KAS “We do not know (The Lady of Kalymnos’) origin. “It probably came from Asia Minor.”
Regardless of its provenance, after dedicated preservation work which went on for twenty months, the statue is now displayed in an appropriate setting in the Kalymnos Museum. The torso of the man on horseback, which was reported to have been found near the Lady, was even displayed at the Acropolis Museum for a time.
Sacagawea Statue Plaque, Netul Landing. Photo by US National Park Service.
Before the centennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition little was known about Sacagawea. A book published in 1902 by Eva Emery Dye The Conquest: The True Story of Lewis and Clark popularized her image as that of a heroine who guided the expedition to success. Activist for women’s rights adopted Sacagawea’s image as a symbol of fortitude and importance of women in American history. Many statues, monuments, memorials, schools, community organizations and geographical landmarks have been named after this Native American heroine.
The following are some of the historical landmarks erected in honor of Sacagawea. Some monuments spell her name Sacagawea, others Sakakawea or Sacajawea.
Washington Park, Portland, Oregon
The first of Sacagawea’s many monuments this one is made in bronze and was unveiled at the Lewis and Clark exhibition in 1905 in Portland to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The statue was designed by Alice Cooper. The National American Women’s Suffrage Association raised the funds to build the statue.
Sacajawea Park at Three Forks, Montana
A statue erected in honor of Sacajawea is located in a park that bears her name. The statue is called “Coming Home” and it is built in the area where Sacajawea was abducted as a young girl and taken to Mandan lands. The sculptor is Mary Michael.
The plaque reads: “An Indian woman whose heroic courage, steadfast devotion and splendid loyalty in acting as Guide across the Rocky Mountains made it possible for the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-1806) to occupy so important a place in the history of this Republic”.
Kansas City monument Lewis and Clark and Sacagawea
This sculpture is named “The Corps of Discovery” and was created by Eugene Daub in 2000 as part of the urban renewal of downtown Kansas City. It is located in Case Park at Clark’s Point. It portrays Lewis, Clark, Sacagawea and her son, Jean Baptiste, on her back and opposite to Sacagawea is York, an African American slave who was also part of the expedition. This is the largest sculpture to date, 18 feet in height, built in honor of this group of explorers.
Sacajawea Memorial Area at Lemhi Pass
Located on the boundary of Montana and Idaho, Lemhi Pass is a National Historic Landmark managed by the National Forest Service where visitors can hike the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. The memorial area was created in 1932 to honor Sacajawea for her role in the success of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), a national women’s service organization, founded in 1890, helped create the Sacajawea Memorial area at Lemhi Pass.
Sacagawea Interpretive, Educational and Events Center in Lemhi River Valley
This center is dedicated to providing education and information about the Native American heroine and her role in the Corps of Discovery expedition. Located in the Lemhi River Valley where Sacagawea was born around 1788, the center provides an outdoor school of discovery, visitor’s center, an amphitheater, community garden and a research library.
Clatsop national Memorial in Astoria, Oregon
In the winter of 1805-06 the Corps of Discovery built a fort in this very place where they found shelter from the winter cold. The expedition stayed until March 1806 when they headed back east. A replica of the fort was built in the original site in 1955 but was destroyed by fire in 2005. It was rebuilt the following year. The Clatsop National Memorial is part of the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park and managed by the National Park Service. A life size bronze statue named “Sacagawea and Baby” is located outside the visitor center. The creator of the statue was Jim Demetro.
Wind River Indian Reservation, Wyoming
The alleged burial site of Sacagawea is located in the cemetery in the Wind River Indian Reservation. The inscription on the gravestone dates Sacagawea’s death as April 9, 1884. According to oral tradition, a woman named Porivo and only recorded as “Bazil’s mother” is buried on the site. According to stories passed on orally Sacagawea had left her husband Toussaint Charbonneau and fled to Wyoming in the 1860s.
Marker of Sacagawea’s death in Mobridge, South Dakota
The controversy of the death of Sacagawea continues to this date. The marker in Mobridge, North Dakota honors Sacagawea as a member of the Shoshone tribe and for her contribution to the Corps of Discovery expedition. This marker dates her death as December 20, 1812 and states that her body must be buried somewhere near the site of old Fort Manuel located 30 miles north of the marker.
Banning a masterpiece: Prehistoric ‘Venus’ statue too hot for Facebook
The prehistoric ‘Venus of Willendorf’ figurine, considered a masterpiece of the paleolithic era, has been censored by Facebook, drawing an indignant response Wednesday from the Natural History Museum in Vienna, where it is on display.
The tiny statuette of a voluptuous naked woman, which is some 30,000 years old, was discovered in the Austrian village of Willendorf in the early 20th century and is considered “the icon” of the museum, the facility’s director general Christian Koeberl said in a statement.
The 11 centimetre (4 inch) statue from the early stone age is “the most popular and best-known prehistoric representation of a woman worldwide,” he added.
A person opening a box containing the prehistoric "Venus of Willendorf" figurine at the Nature Historical Museum in Vienna, Austria. (AFP)
The controversy began in December when Italian arts activist Laura Ghianda posted a picture of the artwork on the social networking site which went viral.
After it was censored she messaged that “this statue is not ‘dangerously pornographic’. The war on human culture and modern intellectualism will not be tolerated.”
The natural history museum voiced outrage, saying in its statement “we think that an archeological object, especially such an iconic one, should not be banned from Facebook because of ‘nudity’, as no artwork should be.
“Let the Venus be naked! Since 29,500 years she shows herself as prehistoric fertility symbol without any clothes. Now Facebook censors it and upsets the community,” it said.
“There is no reason for the Natural History Museum Vienna to cover the ‘Venus of Willendorf’, and hide her nudity, neither in the museum nor on social media,” Koeberl insisted.
“There has never been a complaint by visitors concerning the nakedness of the figurine,” he added.
The museum said it had never directly experienced censorship by Facebook, despite its recent post on “Stone Age pornography”.
Facebook is regularly criticised over content which it bans or indeed content it allows to be published. On March 15, a French court is due to pronounce on the decision by the California-based social networking site to close the Facebook account of someone who posted a photo of 19th century French painter Gustave Courbet’s “Origin of the World” painting, which depicts female genitalia.
Statue of a Woman from Cyprus - History
The Permanent Collection of Cycladic antiquities consists of rare artefacts including the enigmatic "Keros Hoard", among others
The Museum of Cycladic Art houses one of the most complete private collections of Cycladic art worldwide, with representative examples of figurines and vases, tools, weapons, and pottery from all phases of the distinctive Cycladic island culture that flourished in the central Aegean during the Early Bronze Age (third millennium BC).
Marble carving is the most characteristic product of Cycladic culture, and the abstract forms of its figurines have influenced several twentieth and twenty-first century artists, such as Constantin Brancusi, Amedeo Modigliani, Alberto Giacometti, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, and Ai Weiwei.
Although Cycladic marble figurines and vases appeal to the modern viewer for their almost translucent whiteness, their creators loved colour and used it liberally on these objects for both practical and symbolic reasons.
The Cycladic Art Collection is set on the first floor of the building of the permanent collections and opened in 1986. It includes a large number of high quality marble figurines and vases, some of the earliest bronze objects in the Aegean pottery everyday and ritual use, etc. most of which are placed in the 3rd millennium BC
IT ALSO INCLUDES
| Highly sculptured marble bottles, plates, cups and zoomorphic vessels,
| Marble standards,
| Metal objects, such as bronze tools and weapons, leaden figurines and a small silver vessel,
| Symbolic objects such as frying vessels, which are decorated with incised motifs reminiscent of the sea, the stars and female fertility,
| The so-called "Treasure of Keros".
One of the most important objects exposed here is the NG 724 female figurine Early Cycladic II period, with a height of 1.40 meters. This makes it the second largest in the world and known as "Vase Pigeon" (NG 329), held also prominently in the report, is the largest and most complete example poppet plate sculpted birds have been found to date.
Marble figurines are the most elegant creations of Cycladic art. They usually represent nude female figures with the arms folded above the abdomen, slightly flexed knees and a barely uplifted backward-slanting head. This type has been dubbed “canonical” by specialist scholars, because it accounts for the overwhelming majority of figurines sculpted in the Early Cycladic II period (2800-2300 BC), when Cycladic art was at its zenith. The “canonical” type subsumes several varieties, which have been named conventionally after the find-spot where they were first identified. Some early figurines, on which the above traits are not fully developed, are called “pre- canonical”, while a series of late figurines with degenerated characteristics are referred to as “post-canonical”.
In addition to these rather “naturalistic” creations there are several examples in which the female figure is represented in a highly schematic manner. The best-known among them is the “violin-shaped” type, thus called for obvious reasons.
The male figure is rarely represented in Cycladic art, primarily in the form of musicians or warriors and only exceptionally in the standing “canonical” type.
Last, a small number of unusual examples represent groups of figures.
The provenance of most Cycladic figurines is unknown, since they have been unearthed by illicit diggers. The majority of those recovered through systematic archaeological excavations come from graves, which has led many scholars to interpret them as objects of religious or ritual use. However, the fact that only a small number of Cycladic graves contained such figurines, in combination with the discovery of some figurines in settlements or other non-funerary contexts suggest that their function may have been more complex and varied.
EXPLORE THE COLLECTION
INTERNATIONAL SIGN LANGUAGE
Trainee graduate archeology (2006)
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