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"venus" of Willendorf

Essay by review  •  January 2, 2011  •  Essay  •  763 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,510 Views

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The most famous early image of a human, a woman, is the so-called "Venus" of Willendorf, is a 11.1 cm (4 3/8 inches) high statuette of a female figure, discovered at a Paleolithic site in 1908 at a Aurignacian loess deposit near the town of Willendorf in Austria. It is now in the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna. The statue was carved from oolitic limestone, and was colored with red orche. It is dated 30,000 and 25,000 BC.

Her great age and pronounced female forms quickly established the Venus of Willendorf as an icon of prehistoric art. She was soon included in introductory art history textbooks where she quickly displaced other previously used examples of Paleolithic art. Being both female and nude, she fitted perfectly into the patriarchal construction of the history of art. As the earliest known representation, she became the "first woman," acquiring a sort of Ur-Eve identity that focused suitably, from a patriarchal point of view, on the fascinating reality of the female body.

Archeologists have suggested many different ways of understanding its significance for the nomadic society, which made it. The first suggestion is that it was a "Venus figure" or "Goddess," used as a symbol of fertility. Apart from being female, the statue has an enlarged stomach and breasts, its pubic area is greatly emphasized, probably serving as a representative of procreativity, and the red ochre pigment covering it has been thought to symbolize or serve as menstrual blood seen as a life-giving agent. The second suggestion is that the figurine may have served as a good luck charm. Its diminutive size led archaeologists to assume that it may have been carried by the men during their hunting missions in which it served not only as a reminder of their mate back at home but also as a charm to bring them success in their hunting. This is further strengthened by the facelessness of the figurine giving it an air of mystery and anonymity, which suggests that it may have been of more importance as an object rather than as a person. In addition, the figurine's hair is braided in seven concentric circles, seven in later times being regarded as a magic number used to bring about good luck. A third possible significance put forth is that of the figurine serving as a mother goddess (earth mother or female deity). This comes from a suggestion that the statue was a woman whose special ness was indicated in her obesity since women in a hunter-gatherer society would probably not have had the opportunity to get as obese.

Venus Figurines have been found throughout Europe, from western France, to western Russia. They are in essence, small Paleolithic figurines of women, and sometimes (but a limited few) of men. The age

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