Collecting Masterpieces
Photo of steatopyge-goddess-statue-amlash-culture-marlik-tepe-archeology-galerie-golconda

 

Ancient Near and Middle East
RARE AMLASH GODDESS
Ancient Persia / Luristan 

 

Object :
Nº 1556
Medium :
Terracotta
Dimensions :
Height: 27.9 cm (10.9”) – Width: 7.5 cm (2.9”)
Bibliography :
Published in "Collecting Masterpieces" Part One by Beryl Cavallini, pages 122 - 123

Feminine statue in dark beige terracotta, represented naked, with a stylized hairdo and short opened arms. Statuettes from this origin of such a big size are very rare. A study by the British Museum sheds light on the fact that these statues were made by slowly pouring the clay, starting with the legs and finishing with the upper part of the statuette.  

This moving figurine in dark beige terracotta represents an Amlash goddess of an unusual size. Stylised, with her crest-like hairstyle, small breasts and short outstretched arms, she has large hips, which make her, in archaeological jargon, a steatopygeous idol. This term is habitually applied to Neolithic goddesses, most of which have been discovered in Mesopotamia, and it certainly seems that this recurring aesthetic ties these statues either to a cult of fertility or to the worship of a mother goddess. However, our knowledge is limited, and there is no certainty as to the true function of these statues. A recent X-ray study carried out by the British Museum reveals that these Amlash statues were made using a very particular technique. They weren’t moulded but constructed by slowly pouring the clay while the statue was positioned upside-down. By the way, the statue exhibited in London possesses neither the elegance, the size, nor the beautiful proportions of our example. The Amlash culture, which takes its name from a large commercial township situated near the excavation sites, is a wonderful culture of the Caspian Sea. It was composed of nomadic peoples who seemingly lived off the commerce of metal, which they sold on the markets of Mesopotamia and Elam. This statue belongs to the Marlik Tepe archaeological site, found in a pleasant valley of North-West Iran where 53 intact tombs were found by chance in the early ‘60s. Their richness is astounding - beautiful objects in precious metals have been found there, but above all numerous anthropomorphic statues, as well as those shaped like bulls, rams, donkeys, and even leopards. It’s thought that the name Marlik is derived from the numerous snakes found there, mar also meaning snake in the Persian language. There is the essence of the beauty of humanity in this object of cult, still alive after 3000 years, which I am very proud to exhibit.