Near Eastern Terracotta Fertility Figure


A stylised and well preserved female fertility figurine, sculpted from terracotta in the distinctive Tell Halaf style. The statuette is shown sitting up straight, with her arms cradling her exaggerated breasts, a typical feature of votive statuettes, where sexual characteristics were often emphasised. Her head is highly stylised, formed by a pinched rod of terracotta with a short cylindrical headpiece above. Her heavy legs are bent at the knees and assume a conical forms, with the pointed terminals as the feet. The piece is decorated with bands of brown pigment which emphasise the curves of her body, and undulating vertical lines and dots decorating her legs. Horizontal pigment lines mark her eyes on her thin, pinched head.

Date: 6th Millennium BC
Condition: Very fine condition, save a few minor cracks on the base, where the piece has been repaired.


As early as the 7th millennium BC, cultures in the Near East began to create organised settlements with well-developed religious and funerary practices. The Halaf culture of Anatolia (southern Turkey) and Northern Mesopotamia, named after the Tell Halaf site in modern day Syria,  is one example of such sophisticated early cultures. The Halaf culture flourished during the 6th millennium BC and was notable for its ceramic productions, both its intricately painted pottery and remarkable female figurines.

Terracotta was a common material used in the art of sculpture. Easy to shape and durable once baked this material provided a long lasting and detailed imagery of the ancient fertility goddesses. These female deities were embodied within the statuettes, their sexual characteristics and body areas associated with childbirth were fully displayed and exaggerated.

Weight 67.86 g
Dimensions W 3.6 x H 7.6 cm


Pottery and Porcelain

Reference: For a similar item, please see The Walters Art Museum, item 48.2741 and The Met Collection, item 1985.84

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