Portuguese pink marble and gold leaf
49 x 19 x 11 cm
This series of sculptures are inspired by the work ''The Language Of The Goddess'' (1989), by the Lithuanian archaeologist Marija Gimbutas (1921-1994). In this work, Gimbutas analysed and classified a multitude of archaeological artifacts - small sculptures and objects of bone, stone, and ceramics - extracted from various Neolithic sites in South-Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean, in order to identify the meaning of a pictorial "script" developed at the dawn of European agriculture, nine or eight thousand years ago. With an interdisciplinary approach, which drew on archaeology, but also ethnography, linguistics, and comparative mythology, Gimbutas sought to reconstruct not only the symbology itself but also a goddess-inspired religion and a peaceful, balanced ideological system in tune with Nature, which would leave an indelible mark on the Western psyche.
“Schematic figurines comprise one of the most captivating and intriguing aspects of Old European art. Although realistic, beautiful likenesses attract more attention, many more schematic figurines are excavated than lifelike ones. This should not surprise us, because prehistoric art was symbolic art. (...). These simplified images do not disparage the human body, as has been commonly thought; instead, they express a sacred message.”
“In both Upper Paleolithic and Neolithic art, the vulva dominates symbolic portrayals, appearing (...) on figurines and pottery vessels. The vulva appears as a triangle, an oval, an open circle, or even as a bud or branch -a fact that emphasizes its life-giving, rather than erotic, role. The frequency and longevity of this symbol in the archaeological record (over thirty thousand years) speaks for its essential role in the belief system.”
“The woman's body was regarded as parthenogenetic, that is, creating life out of itself. This ability was celebrated in religion. In Neolithic times and earlier in the Upper Paleolithic, religion centered on the feminine power, as shown by the abundance of female symbolism. (...). The imagery of Neolithic art is overwhelmingly feminine: the female body, and particularly its generative parts vulva and uterus or womb-are predominant. These symbols appear not only on figurines or larger sculptures of goddesses, but also on vases, cult equipment, and in tomb and temple architecture.”
Taken from: Gimbutas, Marija (1999): The Living Goddesses (fragment).
Lower image: Elevation and plan of a seal from the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük. Taken from Budja, Mihael (2003): “Seals, contracts and tokens in the Balkans Early Neolithic: where in the puzzle.” Documenta Praehistorica, 30.