bronze female figure
The Collection of Senex Caecilius

The object on the left is a bronze female figure (ca. 1985) from the Cyclades, a group of Greek islands in the southern Aegean Sea. (The largest are Andros, Melos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Tenos, and Thera.) Its abstract form is typical of the white marble figurines placed in graves on the islands ca. 2500 B.C.

The archetypal Cycladic figure is female with a small, flattened head and a nose that sticks out as a sharp ridge. The arms are folded across the chest under small breasts. The legs taper from narrow hips, and the feet are together. Sometimes fingers, toes, mouth, and pelvic area are etched in. (The figures were cut and rubbed into shape using no tools other than the abrasive emery found on Naxos.) They had touches of red and blue paint originally.

The rare male effigies, a few armed and standing in the same pose as females, are hard to explain if the females were fertility figures. Their significance remains uncertain.

Here are some additional references about Cycladic art that might interest you:

  • The Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens offers a number of images, but it is very slow to load, so be patient.
  • The Antiquities Gallery at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth features several of the Cycladic figurines.
  • An article contains an image of a typical Cycladic figurine and gives a brief description.


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