The Neolithic statue from Vicofertile

The sacredness of Mother Earth

By Palazzo della Pilotta

Statuina neolitica di Vicofertile (V millennium BC)Palazzo della Pilotta

The female statue was found in Vicofertile, on the outskirts of Parma, in a Neolithic tomb dated to half way through the V millennium BCE belonging to the Culture of the square mouthed vases.

The tomb was a simple earth dug out containing a woman of about 40 years old lying on her side in a foetal position with her head and face turned to the south.

On either side of the tomb were two burial areas for male figures, three young men and a baby. The central position occupied by the female figure and the material buried with her, including two small vases, illustrates the importance of the role she occupied within her community.

The most extraordinary element from the tomb, the figurine, was realised with two different techniques: the trunk seems to be from a mould possibly obtained by pressing the clay against a wooden block.

The lower part of the legs (less well preserved) was obtained applying small clay masses; the arms were made in the same way.

The nose too was applied. The technique of excision or removal of the clay was used to recreate the hair and the triangle below her breasts, whereas a minor incision was used to indicate the eyes.

Finally the figurine was coloured white; this can still be seen in part. Drying and firing took place rapidly and, as a result, the small figure is very fragile. However, considering the funerary destination of the figure, it did not have to be particularly robust.

The destination of the figure could also explain its angular aspect, with the sexual characteristics barely indicated and a hooked nose, both attributes of a chthonian divinity, a Lady of Death, very different from the female image celebrated during the Neolithic with generous curves and highlighted sexual characteristics associated with the sacredness of “mother earth”.

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