Figure of a Fertility Goddess

Object Details

Title:

Figure of a Fertility Goddess

Artist/Maker(s):

Unknown

Culture:

Cypriot

Place(s):

Cyprus (Place created)

Date:

3000 - 2500 B.C.

Medium:

Limestone

Dimensions:

39.1 x 26 x 42.1 cm (15 3/8 x 10 1/4 x 16 9/16 in.)

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Cypriot female figurines are clearly associated with fertility and childbirth, and this figure with her flattened thighs is squatting in a birthing position. The detailed head of the woman with added facial features and hair atop an elongated neck contrasts with her highly schematized body with its large pendent breasts. The double-roped bands on the arms may represent some form of jewelry.

Female figurines are found throughout the Mediterranean in the third millennium B.C. Over one hundred cruciform figures made in southwestern Cyprus in the period 3000 - 2500 B.C. are known, but almost all are considerably smaller in scale than this example. Only one other figure of this large size is known; these two may have served as cult images representing a fertility goddess.

The figure's left arm, with its clearly visible attachment holes, was repaired in antiquity. This repair attests to the figure's value and importance to the ancient Cypriots.

Provenance
by 1976 -

Private Collection (Switzerland)

- 1983

Galerie Uraeus (Paris, France), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1983.

Exhibitions
Kunst der Kykladen (June 25, 1976 to October 10, 1976)
  • Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe, June 25 to October 10, 1976
Aphrodite in Amsterdam (June 1 to July 31, 1989)
  • Allard Pierson Museum, (Amsterdam), June 1 to July 31, 1989
Cyprus Before the Bronze Age: Art of the Chalcolithic Period (February 22 to August 26, 1990)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), February 22 to April 8, 1990
  • The Menil Collection, (Houston), April 27 to August 26, 1990
Ancient Art from the Permanent Collection (March 16, 1999 to May 23, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), March 16, 1999 to May 23, 2004
Prehistoric Arts of the Eastern Mediterranean (February 11, 2003 to May 4, 2003)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), February 11 to May 4, 2003
Bibliography

Kunst und Kultur der Kykladeninseln im 3. Jahrtausend v. Chr. Badisches Landesmuseum, Karlsruhe (exh. cat.), June 25-October 10, 1976. no. 573.

Peltenburg, E. J. "Chalcolithic Figurine from Lemba, Cyprus," Antiquity 51 (1977), pp. 140-143. p. 141; ill. on backpiece.

Karageorghis, Jacqueline. La Grande Deese de Chypre et son Culte. Lyon: 1977. p. 32, no. 2.

Karageorghis, Vassos. Ancient Cyprus. Baton Rouge: 1981. pp. 13, 16.

Getz-Preziosi, Pat. "An Early Cypriote Sculpture," The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 12 (1984), pp. 21-28. figs. 1a-d.

"Acquisitions/1983." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 12 (1984), p. 233, no. 1.

Maier, Franz Georg, and V. Karageorghis. Paphos. History and Archaeology. Nicosia: 1984. pp. 34-35; fig. 16.

Getz-Preziosi, Pat. Early Cycladic Sculpture. Malibu: 1985. figs. 78-80.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 1st ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1986), p. 26.

Stylianou, Magna, Digging up Cyprus, The Greek American, vol. Jan. 28, 1989, p. 6,7

Cyprus and Aphrodite. Allard Pierson Museum, University of Amsterdam (exh. cat.), June 2-September 3, 1989. pp. 107-8, 151; cat. no. 40.

Eisenberg, J. "Chalcolithic Cyprus," Minerva 1, no. 5 (1990), pp. 13-15. p. 15, ill. cover; fig. 3.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Calendar. February, 1990.

The J. Paul Getty Trust Bulletin 5, no. 1 (Winter 1990).

Cyprus Before the Bronze Age. The Art of the Chalcolithic Period. Exh. cat., J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, February 22-April 8, 1990; Menil Collection, Houston, April 27-August 26, 1990. p. 32, no. 13.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 3rd ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1991), p. 18.

Birge, D. "Field Notes," Archeological News 17, 1-4 (1992). p. 41.

Travis, J. "Laser Replication of Rare Art," Science 256 (May 15, 1992). p. 969.

Getz-Preziosi, Pat. Early Cycladic Sculpture. Revised edition. Malibu: 1994. figs. 80-82.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 4th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 16.

Towne Markus, Elana. Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Antiquities. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997) pp. 12-13.

Gimbutas, Marija. The Language of the Goddess. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2001. cover ill.; pl. 6; p. 104; fig. 170.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), p. 16.

Rudolph, Wolf. "Malibu, J. Paul Getty Museum" in Der Neue Pauly. Enzyklopadie der Antike. Rezeptions- und Wissenschaftsgeschichte. Band 15/1 La-Ot. Stuttgart, 2001. p. 289, fig. 5.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2002) p. 2.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007), p. 2, ill.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010), p.2.

Christou, Sandra. Sexually Ambiguous Imagery in Cyprus from the Neolithic to the Cypro-Archaic Period. BAR International Series 2329 (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2012), pp. 28-29, fig. 4.36.

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