Cycladic female figurine (canonical type, Spedos variety)

Unknown"2800-2300 BC" - ""

Museum of Cycladic Art

Museum of Cycladic Art

Cycladic figurines appeal to the modern eye not least because of the inherent austerity of the stark white marble. However, in reality many of these sculptures were brightly coloured. Cycladic craftsmen used pigments (black or dark blue, red and more rarely green) to indicate the facial features, the hair, the pubic triangle, jewellery as well as vague symbols that possibly show body painting or tattooing. Over the centuries most traces of colour have been lost, but faint remnants (paint ghosts) are preserved, from which this intriguing artistic practice can be studied. Of particular interest in this figurine is the head, on which the eyes, eyebrows, mouth and hair appear to have been modelled in low relief. Detailed examination and ultraviolet photography have demonstrated that these features were originally covered with colour. The pigments protected the surface of the marble at these points from the erosion suffered by the rest of the figurine, and these now appear in relief. There are diverse interpretations of the application of colour to figurines. Since many figurines come from graves, several researchers consider that the coloration may reflect the decoration of the deceased or of the mourning relatives. Another view is that it echoes the face and body decoration of individuals of high status, such as seafarers, merchants and specialist craftsmen. Yet another opinion sees the repetition of specific motifs possibly as an expression of a collective identity, while the variations of these correspond to the use of figurines in different contexts.

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  • Title: Cycladic female figurine (canonical type, Spedos variety)
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: "2800-2300 BC" - ""
  • Read more: <a href="http://www.cycladic.gr/frontoffice/portal.asp?cpage=resource&cresrc=138&cnode=40&clang=1">Read more</a>
  • Provenance: Naxos?, Cyclades, Greece
  • Physical Dimensions: h336 mm
  • Period: Early Bronze Age
  • Culture: Cycladic
  • Type: figurine
  • Rights: N.P. Goulandris Foundation - Museum of Cycladic Art, N.P. Goulandis Collection, no. 252, http://www.cycladic.gr/frontoffice/portal.asp?cpage=NODE&cnode=25&clang=1
  • External Link: Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens, Greece
  • Medium: marble

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