Head of a Large Female Figure
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Cycladic, 2600 - 2500 B.C.
Marble and pigment
9 x 3 1/2 x 2 1/2 in.

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With their starkly elegant and simplified rendering of the human form, Cycladic sculptures often strike viewers as quite modern. This head preserves some of the original effect of these figures, on which facial features, hair, and occasionally jewelry were added in paint. Short vertical lines on the forehead, a stripe on the nose, and bands of dots on the cheeks and chin--all added in red and black pigment--may be cosmetic lines or tattooing.

While most of these sculptures were under a foot tall, this head was from one of the rare examples that were approximately life-size. Most Cycladic figures are found in graves, and they may have had some religious function connected with the afterlife.