Ancient Anatolian Terracotta Female Figurine


An ancient Anatolian terracotta idol representing an anthropomorphic figure. The figure stands with arms held outstretched perpendicularly. The figurine features a long, wide, rectangular body which flares slightly at the base. The head is flat with three triangular protrusions, perhaps indication a headdress. There is a single ‘eye’ aplied to the left protrusion, however it is unclear whether this is intended as a defining facial feature or a decorative embellishment of the headdress. The rest of the head is plain and without any facial features. The figure is more identifiable as female due to two round, applied protrusions, giving the illusion of breasts. Each breast is decorated with vertical striations radiating out of a central circle. Geometric patterns including circles, inverted v shapes and rhombus shapes are incised all over the body. There is a small hole in the centre of abdomen. The reverse of the figure is flattened and decorated with a hatched pattern. A rope-like clay strand has been applied to the reverse, perhaps indicating ahair or a headdress. It is also decorated with a dot-motif. Overall the figure is rendered in an abstract and stylised manner.

Weight of the piece includes the stand. Height of the figure given below also includes the stand. Height of the figurine alone is 13cm. Width measures across the length of the arms.

Date: Circa 3rd-2nd millennium BC
Provenance: From an important Cambridgeshire estate, acquired on the UK art market before 2000, hence by descent.
Condition: Fine condition. Small chips to the head, hands and base. One 'eye' missing from the head. Arms partially missing. Mounted on a custom-made base.

In stock

Figurines, measuring from 2cm to 20cm, were among the most pervasive objects produced in the ancient Near East. Their production can be traced from the Southwest Asian Neolithic period, beginning in the 7th Millennium BC. Figurines were made in array of raw materials, including: marble, clay, stones and shell. The figurines are often highly stylistic and decorated with a range of motifs, rendered in appliqués and incisions. The majority of figurines are hard to clearly distinguish as male or female. In this instance, the inclusion of breasts would suggest a more female orientated figure. It has been argued that such figures were focused on the ‘Mother goddess’ aspect and associated with pregnancy, fertility and matriarchal society values. This concept has been challenged slightly, with an alternative suggestion that such figures were not wholly focused on gender identity but spoke of the interaction with gender and wider sociological themes.

Within the 3rd Millennium, Anatolia went through a vast expansion in settlement, naturally incorporating a myriad of cultures and ethnic groups. Figures such as this were hand-made and whilst the overall form was uniform, individuality of decorative motifs can be seen extensively. Additional designs could include incised geometric patterns, applied elements and indentations.

Weight 210 g
Dimensions L 5 x W 9 x H 13.9 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


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