Austria has the wonderfully curvaceous Venus of Willendorf, and Ankara's Museum of Anatolian Civilizations is home to this marvellous statuette of a goddess, possibly giving birth, while seated on a throne flanked by large cats. I seriously wonder why worshipping voluptuous females went out of style... Well, we won't get into the history of religions here, but just look at her:
Someone, one day in around 5750 BCE in the Neolithic settlement of Çatalhöyük, selected a piece of clay to sculpt this surprisingly small beauty. I had only ever seen her in photographs, and had imagined her much bigger, but she was far more impressive in person than in any photograph I've studied. Though her figure is simplified and abstracted, the level of detail in her folds of flesh is astounding. There are carefully rendered creases and dimples all around her body, and the sense of power in her posture still radiates today. There is no shortage of goddess or female figurines that have been found in Central and Eastern Anatolia, and the museum has an exquisite collection of them to fall in love with:
They are also loads of fun to draw (you will see my attempts in a future post). Many of these little ladies are from Çatalhöyük as well, which just so happens to be not too far away...
Note: Having now just visited Çatalhöyük, our very knowledgeable guide Tunç told us that archaeologists are reluctant to call these figurines goddesses, and suspect that they may have been used by women as fertility talismans. We will never know!