One of the most characteristic expressions of the Neolithic period was the creation of full-figured female statues in terracotta and stone. These figures are depicted seated or standing, resting their hands on the stomach or bringing them up toward their breasts, and they have continuous, rounded contours, most characteristically exhibiting the exaggerated physique seen here. With particularly developed buttocks, these figures are described as steatopygous in type. They are linked to fertility cults and to the cult of the Great Goddess of the Neolithic World. The Great Goddess provided a way of rationalizing a little-understood and seemingly chaotic natural world. She was responsible for the fertility of the crops, herds, and the community at large, but like nature itself, she was unpredictable. Credited with the group’s success, the Great Goddess was equally feared as the Mother Terrible who lashed out at her worshipers with failures and disasters.
S. B. Family Collection, 1960s.
Private collection, New York, 1990s.