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Venus figures and other items from the Townsend Collection

Earl Townsend, Jr, who died in 2007, was a passionate collector and historian of prehistoric North American artifacts. He was a highly-regarded attorney, philanthropist, patron of the arts, collector, author and historian. Townsend started collecting artifacts in 1920. Over the decades, he actively sought out the finest examples of North American prehistoric artifacts, placing a special emphasis on birdstones. As an author and historian, he is widely recognized as the preeminent authority on Native American birdstones. At one time, Townsend had over 600 birdstones in his collection. His father collected some items from European Palaeolithic art, and Townsend swapped some of his North American pieces for European pieces.

Text above adapted from http://www.antiquehelper.com/press/78



Readers should note that no claims can be made for the authenticity or age of these objects, except that they are from the collections of Earl Townsend, Jr.

Investigations are continuing by G. Miklashek to establish provenance and other important data about the pieces.



The Sepia Berlin 'Lespugue' Venus, the Blonde Berlin Venus, the Orange Berlin Venus, the Green Berlin Venus, and the 'Lascaux' Venus shown below are all apparently by the same maker, or from the same workshop, and are of modern manufacture. They are superbly made, far better than any other fake venus figures that I am aware of. Readers may care to compare these superbly made figurines with the quality of the fake Dolni Vestonice venus for example, which is laughably amateurish by comparison.

They are wonderful works of art, the Blonde Berlin Venus excepted, but all are obviously from the same atelier.

The use of steatite or soapstone means that there is no method of dating the pieces, something that may well have prompted the sculptor to choose this material for the sculptures. In addition, this material is very easy to sculpt, and if sufficient care is taken with the creation and later burnishing of the piece, all evidence of modern manufacture can be obliterated. However, this is a two edged sword, and such a 'perfect' piece is immediately suspect.

sepia berlin venus sepia berlin venus





Sepia Berlin 'Lespugue' Venus


sepia berlin venus





Sepia Berlin 'Lespugue' Venus



sepia berlin venus sepia berlin venus





Sepia Berlin 'Lespugue' Venus


Sepia Berlin 'Lespugue' Venus

Modern manufacture, evidence of 'chattering' from a rotary drill similar to the modern 'Dremel' tools.

The figure is extremely similar to the Venus of Lespugue, and has obviously been modelled on this well known artefact.

Material: Unknown, probably steatite, soapstone

Notes:

• Although polished to a high lustre, the figure has many sub-parallel scratches on its surface, apparently left during manufacture.
• There is evidence of soil and probably grains of quartz on the figurine, mostly between the legs, front and back.
• The hips are significantly wider than the shoulders.
• The head is featureless, and no face is indicated.
• Both breasts are featureless.
• The vulva is not indicated.
• The navel is shown.
• The abdomen protrudes in an exaggerated manner.
• The legs are not separate, but the groove between them is clearly shown.
• The buttocks are clearly marked, and bulge to each side, though they are flattened at the back.
• The buttocks are deeply cleft, though no anus is shown.
• The legs are elliptical in cross section, with the widest axis from side to side.
• The knees are not clearly indicated.
• The legs extend only as far as the ankles.
• The upper and lower arms are very much shorter than in real life.
• The arms are thin, disproportionately so to the rest of the body.
• Four fingers and a thumb are shown on the hands, which are placed across the breasts, with the fingers terminating in the cleft between the breasts.
• The figure is completely naked, no necklace or other decoration is shown.
• The hair extends down the back of the head only as far as the neck
• The shoulders are shown at the back as though they are part of a cape.
• The neck is barely indicated from side to side. It is almost as wide as the head.
• The figure is shown upright, with the back arched as in pregnancy.
• The breasts and abdomen are grotesquely large.
• The figure is apparently modelled on the Venus of Lespugue.
• There are two paper stickers on the buttocks. One is a printed label reading GOTTIN AN31 BERLIN and the other is a red bordered sub-elliptical paper sticker, hand-written with C.C. E.21 VENUS EX HEYE. Gottin means Goddess.

Photo: J. Stickney, © G. Miklashek




Evidence of modern manufacture

sepia berlin venus sepia berlin venus
When a modern drill bit in a hand held electrical drill such as the 'Dremel' brand is used, care must be taken that the drill bit is at all times under the control of the user.

If it is not firmly held, the drill bit may well career across the surface of the piece, leading to what are generally called 'chatter' marks. This can be used to very good effect in ceramic pieces as a decorative element, using a suitable piece of spring steel on the rotating leather-hard clay body of a pot.

However in the case of re-creating ancient pieces, the presence of such marks is a dead giveaway that the piece is of modern manufacture, which is the case here.


sepia berlin venus sepia berlin venus
Readers may care to click on the images here to see in close up the evidence of modern manufacture on this piece.

The 'chattering' has been accentuated by the later burnishing of the piece with iron oxide or a similar colouring agent, in order to give a semblance of age, which has filled in the surface defects and made them very visible when closely observed.

Photo: J. Stickney, © G. Miklashek






blonde venus blonde venus blonde venus blonde venus



Blonde Berlin Venus

Modern manufacture, evidence of a rotary grinding tool in the grooves.

Material: Unknown, probably steatite, soapstone

Notes:

• This venus appears to be from a different artist, though possibly from the same workshop, to the other 'Berlin' Venuses on this page.
• The piece has been polished to a medium lustre, with random scratches left on the surface.
• There is no evidence of soil on the figurine, but the grooves have pale brown material in them.
• The hands are under the breasts, apparently supporting them.
• The presence of very regular transverse grooves should be noted, notably at the line of the hair or cap and the outlines of the pubic triangle and the crease separating the legs. This marks the piece as being of modern manufacture.
• The hips are significantly wider than the shoulders.
• The face is blank, and the head has a pronounced chin.
• There is either a pronounced hair style or head covering which nevertheless leaves the face showing.
• The buttocks project to the rear, and the legs are shown as thick.
• No nipples or aureoles are shown on the full breasts.
• The pubic triangle is clearly defined, but the vulva is not shown.
• The navel is shown with an irregular indentation.
• The abdomen bulges forward, as does the pubic triangle.
• The legs are shown, the feet are indicated, but no knees are shown on the relatively short legs.
• The legs are not separated except by a groove in the material.
• The buttocks are deeply cleft, though no anus is shown.
• The upper and lower arms are shorter than in real life.
• The arms are thin, disproportionately so to the rest of the body.
• The figure is completely naked, no necklace or other decoration is shown.
• The neck is well indicated.
• The figure is shown bent very slightly forward at the waist.
• There are two paper stickers on the the back. One is a printed label on the left lower back which reads GOTTIN AN38 BERLIN, and the other is a red bordered sub-rectangular paper sticker hand-written 1849. 1849 is the catalogue number.

Photo: J. Stickney, © G. Miklashek

blonde venus

The collection notes for the venus shown above, the 'Blonde Berlin Venus', Catalague # 1849, say:

1849: 4 7/8 " Very rare Venus Figurine made from highly translucent gem serpentine, found with two others of lesser quality material, when constructing a railroad around 1900 near Berlin, Germany. Said to be a counterpart of the famous Venus of Willendorf per the Smithsonian.

Comparing this to the Venus of Willendorf is laughable, even if it were authentic. It is a very pedestrian piece.

If the reader looks at the image to the left and notes the areas inside the blue rectangles, the marks of a drill bit can be seen, probably a Dremel hand held drill on a flexible shaft or similar.

Even more diagnostic as can be seen within the red rectangles is the 'chatter' produced when the person making it lost control of the drill, and it went careering off across the surface of the piece, leaving very characteristic marks.






orange berlin venus orange berlin venus orange berlin venus


orange berlin venus



Orange Berlin Venus

Material: Unknown, probably steatite, soapstone

Site: Catalogue notes give this as a railway cutting in Berlin.

Notes:

• Although polished to a high lustre, the figure has many sub-parallel scratches on its surface, apparently left during manufacture.
• There is no evidence of soil or other material on the figurine, apart from traces of what may be red ochre.
• The hips are significantly wider than the shoulders.
• The head is featureless, and no face is indicated.
• Aureoles are shown on both breasts.
• The vulva is clearly shown.
• The navel is shown.
• The abdomen protrudes slightly.
• The legs are separated only from the knees down, but clearly shown.
• The buttocks are clearly marked, and bulge to each side, though they are flattened at the back.
• The buttocks are deeply cleft, though no anus is shown.
• The legs are elliptical in cross section, with the widest axis from front to back.
• The knees are shown.
• The legs extend only as far as the ankles.
• The upper and lower arms are shorter than in real life.
• The arms are thin, disproportionately so to the rest of the body.
• Four fingers and a thumb are shown on the hands, which are placed across the breasts.
• The figure is completely naked, no necklace or other decoration is shown.
• The left thigh is thicker than the right when viewed from the front.
• The hair extends down the back in a queue, which may be intended to be in a net or scarf of some kind.
• The neck is barely indicated. It is almost as wide as the head.
• The figure is shown leaning slightly forward.
• There are two paper stickers on the buttocks. One is a printed label reading GOTTIN AN38 BERLIN and the other is a red bordered sub-rectangular paper sticker, hand-written with TOWNSEND 1874. 1874 is the catalogue number. Gottin means Goddess.

Photo: J. Stickney, © G. Miklashek


grey green venus grey green venus grey green venus grey green venus



Green Berlin Venus

Site: Catalogue notes give this as a railway cutting in Berlin.

Material: Unknown, probably steatite, soapstone

Notes:

• This venus could easily be from the same artist as made the Berlin Venus above.
• Although polished to a high lustre, the figure has many sub-parallel scratches on its surface, apparently left during manufacture.
• There is no evidence of soil or other material on the figurine, apart from traces of what may be red ochre.
• There are white and red-brown concretions on the front and back of the figure, which apparently appeared after manufacture.
• The hips are significantly wider than the shoulders.
• The face is indicated, with the front of the neck modelled, as well as hair or a head covering framing the face.
• Viewed from the side, the head protrudes from the hair or head covering, in a manner suggesting a head covering, though there is no margin of this covering shown on the rest of the figure.
• Aureoles are shown on both breasts.
• The pubic triangle is enlarged and clearly defined, and the vulva is clearly shown.
• The navel is shown.
• The abdomen protrudes slightly.
• The legs are separated only from the knees down, but clearly shown.
• The buttocks are clearly marked, and bulge to each side, though they are flattened at the back.
• The buttocks are deeply cleft, though no anus is shown.
• The knees are shown.
• The legs extend to what might be thought of as feet, but they are not separated, and the feet are not indicated.
• The upper and lower arms are shorter than in real life.
• The arms are thin, disproportionately so to the rest of the body.
• Four fingers and a thumb are shown on the hands, which are placed across the breasts.
• The figure is completely naked, no necklace or other decoration is shown.
• The neck is well indicated.
• The figure is shown bent slightly to its right at the waist.
• There are two paper stickers on the feet at the back. One is a printed label on which only BERLIN is visible, and the other, pasted over it, is a red bordered sub-rectangular paper sticker hand-written 1872. 1872 is the catalogue number.

Photo: J. Stickney, © G. Miklashek

lascaux venus lascaux venus lascaux venus lascaux venus



'Lascaux' Venus

I believe this to be a masterpiece, whatever its origin.

Material: Unknown, probably steatite, soapstone

Origin: Unknown.

Notes:

• Although polished to a low lustre, the figure has many sub-parallel scratches on its surface, apparently left during manufacture.
• There is evidence of a foreign, opaque, pale red-brown material in the creases of the figure.
• The hips are approximately as wide as the shoulders.
• The face is not shown, although the chin is indicated.
• Aureoles and nipples are shown, apparently carved out from the breasts as something of an afterthought.
• The pubic triangle and vulva are clearly shown.
• The hands rest below the breasts, and have four fingers and a thumb on the right hand, but only four fingers can be seen on the left hand.
• The navel is shown.
• The abdomen is grotesquely extended below the hands, and there are two folds of the abdomen below that.
• The buttocks are clearly marked with a crease at the legs, but there is no crease above the mid-level of the buttocks. Instead, there is a difficult to interpret projection from the vertical crease leading up from the legs.
• From the front, it seems obvious that there are thighs, calves and legs.
• From the sides, the buttocks and thighs appear fused and foreshortened, with the thighs horizontal, and well shaped though thick calves leading down to the feet, which are barely indicated.
• The upper arms are thinner than in real life, although they do extend far enough that the short, thin forearms are shown below the breasts.
• The figure is completely naked, no necklace or other decoration is shown.
• The neck is quite thick from side to side, but close to natural from the side.
• The figure is shown bent over backwards.
• There is an oval red bordered paper sticker on the leg at the right side, hand-written 3196 TOWNSEND LASCAUX FR. 3196 is the catalogue number.

However it is the view from the back that is curious.

The back of the head is flattened, as though it were a face, looking downwards.

What at first looks like shoulder blades are more easily interpreted as small breasts.

The curious structure at the level of the buttocks could be interpreted as a pubic triangle, but without the vulva being shown.

The arms can be interpreted as being pulled back behind the body.

Only the lower legs do not fit this interpretation, with their feet pointing the opposite way.

It is possible to interpret this venus figure as being meant to represent the two ages of woman - the obvious figure is a mature woman who has given birth, the back of the figure can be interpreted as a young girl just beginning puberty.

Photo: J. Stickney, © G. Miklashek

burgundy venus burgundy venus burgundy venus burgundy venus



Burgundy Venus

Material: Unknown

Origin: Unknown

Modern Manufacture

Notes:

• This is a very stylised figurine of a heavily pregnant female.
• Full, high breasts are indicated, though of modest size.
• A crease is indicated in the buttocks.
Parallel transverse scratches in the groove of the buttocks in the view from the back indicate that this is of modern manufacture.
• The crease in the buttocks continues to the front. A stylised pubic triangle is indicated.
• A navel is indicated.
• The material is very opaque.
• There are many surface imperfections.
• The figure has been polished to a dull lustre, except for the defining grooves of the piece.
• There is no evidence of significant soiling of the figure.
• There is no evidence of ochre on the surface.
• The head is small relative to the rest of the body.
• The figure carries an oval red sticker reading 101 VENUS PALEOLITHIC FRANCE.

Photo: J. Stickney, © G. Miklashek


spear thrower spear thrower spear thrower



This tool appears to be a spear thrower or a spear straightener, or both. So far as I can tell, it is a genuine piece from the Magdalenian.

Notes:

• The tool is decorated on one side with what is probably an aurochs, and on the other with what may be a reindeer, but that is by no means certain - the shape of the body could be interpreted as a reindeer, but the horns are more like an ibex.
• The piece is apparently made of mammoth ivory or reindeer antler, and shows evidence of age. Many of the cracks and recesses are filled with a grey-brown substance which may be sandy soil.
• There is a small button or knob at the end of the tool on the side which bears the carving of an aurochs.
• The small end of the tool has a rainurage or groove which may have been for the attachment of a thong, so that it could be attached to the belt or clothing of the hunter, or in a loop around the wrist.
• There is a hole towards the small end of the tool which is quite irregular, and its purpose is difficult to work out. At first sight it might be thought to be for the insertion of a finger for a better purchase when throwing a dart, but at a maximum of 15 mm diameter, it is too small to serve that purpose. The other possibility is that the hole is a tool to straighten a spear or dart.
• There is no obvious hook to fit into the end of a dart, if it is a spear thrower. It may be that the small knob on the large, carved end has something to do with this purpose.
• The grooves near the small end may be to aid in gripping the spear thrower.
• The tool is about 38 cm long.

Photo: J. Stickney, © G. Miklashek

cycladic venus figurine cycladic venus figurine cycladic venus figurine cycladic venus figurine




Cycladic style venus figure.

Material: possibly marble

Origin: Unknown

Text below from Wikipedia:

Cycladic sculptures

The best-known art of this period are the marble figures usually called 'idols' or 'figurines', though neither name is exactly correct: the former term suggests a religious function which is by no means agreed on by experts, and the latter doesn't properly apply to the largest figures, which are nearly life size. These marble figures are seen scattered around the Aegean, suggesting that these figures were popular amongst the people of Crete and Mainland Greece. Perhaps the most famous of these figures are musicians: one a harp-player the other a pipe-player. Dating to approximately 42500 BP, these musicians are sometimes considered 'the earliest extant musicians from the Aegean'.

The majority of these figures, however, are highly stylised representations of the female human form, typically having a flat, geometric quality which gives them a striking resemblance to today's modern art. However, this may be a modern misconception as there is evidence that the idols were originally brightly painted. A majority of the figurines are female, depicted nude, and with arms folded across the stomach. Most writers who have considered these artefacts from an anthropological or psychological viewpoint have assumed that they are representative of a Great Goddess of nature, in a tradition continuous with that of Neolithic female figures such as the Venus of Willendorf. Although some archeologists would agree, this interpretation is not generally agreed on by archaeologists, among whom there is no consensus on their significance. They have been variously interpreted as idols of the gods, images of death, children's dolls, and other things. One authority feels they were 'more than dolls and probably less than sacrosanct idols.'

Suggestions that these images were idols in the strict sense - cult objects which were the focus of ritual worship - are unsupported by any archeological evidence. What the archaeological evidence does suggest is that these images were regularly used in funerary practice: they have all been found in graves. Yet at least some of them show clear signs of having been repaired, implying that they were objects valued by the deceased during life and were not made specifically for burial. Furthermore, larger figures were sometimes broken up so that only part of them was buried, a phenomenon for which there is no explanation. The figures apparently were buried equally with both men and women. Such figures were not found in every grave.

Notes:

• The neck of the figure has been broken and repaired.
• The neck is very long.
• The stone used is white in colour.
• The nose is carefully modelled and polished, with a sharp bridge.
• Small breasts are shown on the figure. The hands are folded beneath the breasts, and are close to natural size, though thinner than in real life.
• The abdomen and navel are indicated.
• The right arm is folded under the left across the abdomen.
• The pubic triangle is shown, but the vulva is not delineated.
• Legs, knees and feet are indicated, and the legs are not separated.
• The buttocks are shown, but are flattened.
• There is a red sticker on the buttocks which reads TOWNSEND 3128 RARE CYCLADIC STYLE FERTILITY GODDESS GREECE.

Photo: J. Stickney, © G. Miklashek

cycladic venus figurine cycladic venus figurine cycladic venus figurine cycladic venus figurine




Cycladic style venus figure.

Material: unknown, possibly brown marble.

Origin: Unknown

Text below from the site of the British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/gr/m/marble_figurine_of_a_woman.aspx

The Early Bronze Age inhabitants of the Cyclades made marble figurines of this type between about 4700 and 4400 BP. Though a few male figures are known, as well as rare musician figures, they are usually female and naked with folded arms. Their heads have no features apart from a sculpted nose, though facial features were often originally added in paint. The elongated crown of the head was also frequently painted, perhaps to indicate a hairstyle or headdress. The arms are folded, the right always underneath the left, and the feet point downwards, so that they are designed either to lie down, or to be propped up or perhaps carried.

The care and time taken to produce these figures, in marble rather than some softer material, and in a well-defined form that was maintained over centuries, suggests that they were important to the people who made and used them. They probably had religious significance and are unlikely to have been dolls or toys. Most come from graves, though they have also been found in settlements. They perhaps had some use in the rituals of the living before accompanying their owners to the grave.

J.L. Fitton, Cycladic art, 2nd ed. (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)

Notes:

• There is a diagonal crack across the figure at the level of the thighs.
• The neck is broad and extraordinarily long.
• The face is featureless except for the nose, and the top of the head is stylised.
• The nose is carefully modelled and polished, with a sharp bridge.
• The stone used is brown in colour, and is opaque.
• The right arm is folded under the left.
• Small breasts are shown on the figure. The hands cross the upper abdomen beneath the breasts, and are thinner than in real life.
• The hands are shown with five fingers, though the thumb is not carefully modelled as such.
• The abdomen is slightly rounded, but the navel is not indicated.
• The shoulders slope down from the neck.
• The pubic triangle is shown, and the vulva delineated as an extension of the space between the legs.
• Legs, knees and feet are indicated, and the legs are separated.
• The feet point downwards.
•The feet are shown with five toes, and the big toe is shown as larger than the others.
•The buttocks are shown, but are flattened.
• There are surface deposits of a pinkish material.

Photo: J. Stickney, © G. Miklashek

cycladic venus figures

For comparison, here are some Cycladic sculptures in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens

Note that where shown, the arms are folded so that the right arm is always below the left.

Photo: sailko
Permission: GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version.




cyclades map

Map of the Cyclades Islands.

The Cyclades is a Greek island group in the Aegean Sea, south-east of the mainland of Greece. They are one of the island groups which constitute the Aegean archipelago. The name refers to the islands around (κυκλάς) the sacred island of Delos.

The Cyclades comprise about 220 islands, the major ones being Amorgós, Anáfē, Ándros, Antíparos, Dēlos, Eschátē, Íos, Kéa, Kímōlos, Kýthnos, Mēlos, Mýkonos, Náxos, Páros, Folégandros, Sérifos, Sífnos, Síkinos, Sýros, Tēnos, and Thēra or Santoríni. Most of the smaller islands are uninhabited.

Ermoupolis, on Syros, is the chief town and administrative center of the former prefecture.

The islands are peaks of a submerged mountainous terrain, with the exception of two volcanic islands, Milos and Santorini (Thera). The climate is generally dry and mild, but with the exception of Naxos the soil is not very fertile: agricultural produce includes wine, fruit, wheat, olive oil, and tobacco. Cooler temperatures are in higher elevations and mainly do not receive wintry weather. The Cyclades are bounded to the south by the Sea of Crete.

Photo: http://www.cycladic.gr/frontoffice/portal.asp?cpage=NODE&cnode=36&clang=1
Text: Wikipedia


cycladic violin venus figurine cycladic violin venus figurine cycladic violin venus figurine cycladic violin venus figurine




Cycladic Violin style venus figure.

Material: unknown, possibly marble.

Origin: Unknown

Notes:

• Height: 245 mm. This is extraordinarily long for this style of venus.
• Width at pelvis: 80 mm.
• Width at shoulders: 72 mm.
• The neck is thin and extraordinarily long.
• Shoulders, torso and pelvic area are indicated, but greatly stylised.
• The pubic triangle and vulva are shown.
• Legs are not indicated.
• Two horizontal lines are shown at the level of the waist.
• The red sticker on the back reads: 2230 TOWNSEND EARLY CYCLADIC VIOLIN NAXOS ONE OF THE LARGEST AND BEST KNOWN.
• Naxos is a Greek island, the largest island in the Cyclades island group in the Aegean. It was the centre of archaic Cycladic culture.

Photo: J. Stickney, © G. Miklashek

cycladic violin venus figurine
Violin-shaped figurine

marble, Early Cycladic I period - Pelos phase 5200 - 4800 BP

Height 98 mm, from Antiparos(?)

Description

Violin-shaped figurines - thus named because their profile resembles that of a violin or fiddle - are the most common type of schematic representation of the human body in the Early Cycladic I period. Developed from the violin-like figures of the Neolithic Age (7300 - 5200 BP), they are usually small, very thin, with a long rod-like projection denoting the head and neck, and two wide notches at the sides forming the "waist" of the body. Several examples feature an incised pubic triangle, while more rarely modelled breasts appear, indicating the female sex of the figures.

The illustrated example features the pubic triangle as well as incised creases in the area of the "waist". Similar creases or wrinkles are also present on later naturalistic figurines and are usually interpreted as signs of a post-parturition state. However, incised creases occur sometimes on male figurines too, casting doubts on this interpretation.

Photo: © N.P. Goulandris Foundation - Museum of Cycladic Art, N.P. Goulandris Collection, no. 338
Source: http://www.cycladic.gr/frontoffice/portal.asp?cpage=resource&cresrc=902&cnode=35&clang=1









Pieces of recent manufacture

It should be realised that in a collection like this, where the pieces were bought from a dealer, it is inevitable that fakes and pieces of doubtful provenance should appear. The market for prehistoric pieces is insatiable, and there is a thriving industry in supplying that need.




cycladic venus figurine cycladic venus figurine cycladic venus figurine cycladic venus figurine




Cycladic style venus figure.

Material: unknown, possibly brown marble.

Origin: Unknown

Notes:

• The left arm is folded across the body under the right. It is thus of recent manufacture.
• The legs are foreshortened when compared to other Cycladic figurines.
• The shoulders are wider than the pelvis.
• There is a diagonal crack across the figure at the level of the waist.
• Colour is brown.
• The nose is carefully modelled and polished, with a sharp bridge.
• Small breasts are shown on the figure. The hands are folded beneath the breasts, at the waist, and are close to natural size, though thinner than in real life.
• The abdomen area is flat, and no navel is shown.
• The pubic triangle is shown, and the vulva is clearly shown.
• Legs, knees and feet are indicated, and the legs are not separated except at the level of the feet.
• The legs are heavily set, and short in relation to the rest of the figure.
• The shoulders are shown as being angular, as are the elbows.
• The buttocks are shown, but are flattened.
• There is a red sticker on the right scapula which reads TOWNSEND 2210

Photo: J. Stickney, © G. Miklashek



jaguar god figurine jaguar god figurine jaguar god figurine jaguar god figurine




Possibly a depiction of one of the many jaguar gods from Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. This one is obviously female.

Material: ceramic.

Origin: Unknown

Notes:

• The figurine is ceramic, and well finished. If it were to come from Europe, it could thus only be Neolithic or later in age, after lions were extinct in that region.
• Careful inspection will show the marks of a wet cloth or similar used in shaping and smoothing the piece.
• The ears are small, which is characteristic of a jaguar in comparison to a lion, though this is not diagnostic in a sculpture of this type.
• The nose is prominent.
• The piece has been burnished to a dull sheen before firing.
• The piece is without soil of any kind on its surface.
• All the major Mesoamerican civilisations featured one or more jaguar gods.
• The stance, squatting or kneeling, with 'hands' on or near the knees, or in front of the figure, is a very characteristic pose for Mesoamerican gods, goddesses and rulers. This alone stamps it as Mesoamerican in style.
• The arms are shown bent 'backwards' in a smooth curve, as though the piece was to be used in a rolling action to crush herbs or ochre, though there is no evidence that it was used in this way.
• The inclusion of carefully modelled breasts is very rare in Mesoamerican female pieces, and even less so for the vulva. The piece is almost certainly of recent manufacture.

Photo: J. Stickney, © G. Miklashek

olmec god figurine olmec ruler twin II figurine
For comparison, here is one of two squatting Olmec rulers in characteristic pose, paying homage to a feline-jaguar deity, as well as the jaguar deity itself.

(left) Monument 7 (small feline), Mexico, Veracruz, Municipality of Texistepec, Loma del Zapote-El Azuzul, 1200–900 BC, arkose, 43 1/4 x 30 11/16 x 19 5/8 inches. Museo de Antropologia de Xalapa, Universidad Veracruzana (10-573558 3/3). Photo: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes–Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia–Mexico–Javier Hinojosa

(right) Monument 9 (Twin II), Mexico, Veracruz, Municipality of Texistepec, Loma del Zapote-El Azuzul, 3200–2900 BP, andesite, 39 3/8 x 33 7/16 x 47 1/4 inches. Museo de Antropologia de Xalapa, Universidad Veracruzana (10–573558 1/3).

Arkose is a type of sandstone. Andesite is an extrusive rock intermediate in composition between rhyolite and basalt. Andesite lava is of moderate viscosity and forms thick lava flows and domes. The word andesite is derived from the Andes Mountains in South America, where andesite is common. Andesite is the volcanic equivalent of diorite.

The Twins and the Jaguar have obviously been done by different artists using different stone. It would seem logical to me that the Jaguar god was done first, perhaps a long time before, and the Twins after.

Photo: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes–Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia–Mexico–Javier Hinojosa
Photographer: Javier Hinojosa, Fine Arts Museums Of S.f. / SF
Source: from an exhibition at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. 'Olmec: Colossal Masterworks of Ancient Mexico', http://deyoung.famsf.org/deyoung/exhibitions/olmec-colossal-masterworks-ancient-mexico


olmec god figurine


A photo of the sculptures in situ at El Azuzul, as they were discovered, with the 'twins' facing off against the jaguar. The sculptures have since been moved to Xalapa. Researchers believe that these sculptures had not been moved since Olmec times.

El Azuzul is an Olmec archaeological site in Veracruz, Mexico, a few kilometres south of the San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán complex and generally considered contemporary with it (perhaps 3100 to 2800 BP). Named for the ranch on which it is located, El Azuzul is part of the Loma del Zapote complex.

The site occupies the higher elevations north of the confluence of two ancient river courses, a part of the Coatzacoalcos River system. It is upstream of the monumental earthworks at Potrero Nuevo, which is part of the San Lorenzo complex.

Photo: Thomas Aleto
Permission: CC 2.0 Attribution: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
Text: Wikipedia






ceramic venus ceramic venus ceramic venus ceramic venus



Ceramic Venus

Material: A low-temperature fired ceramic. This dates the object from the Neolithic at the earliest, and in any case the surface is so clean, with unfilled small cracks due to firing that it must be of recent manufacture.

Origin: Unknown.

Notes:

• There is no evidence of soil or other material on the figurine. The surface is clean.
• Given the above and that the surface is also absorbent and unpolished, with many clean surface cracks shows that it is of modern manufacture.
• There are a number of surface cracks on the figurine, and the head has been broken off and reattached.
• There is a dark, rough area on the right shoulder, apparently introduced during firing.
• The figure is completely naked, no necklace or other decoration is shown.
• The head is featureless, and is widest towards the top of the head.
• The top of the head is relatively flat.
• The pubic triangle is indicated, but the vulva is not marked.
• The hips are wider than the shoulders.
• The arms are barely indicated at the level of the shoulders, but are not otherwise depicted.
• The buttocks are well defined, with the anus indicated.
• The legs and thighs are proportionate to the body, but no feet are indicated.
• No navel is marked.
• The abdomen protrudes slightly.

Photo: J. Stickney, © G. Miklashek

bead with head bead with head






bead with head bead with head




This bead shows a human head. It is obviously a modern curiosity. It was most probably produced not long after images of recreations of Neanderthals became widely disseminated.

Estimates vary, but Neanderthals became extinct between 40 000 and 30 000 years ago, so it cannot be a portrait of a living Neanderthal.

Material: Unknown

Origin: Unknown

Notes:

• The hole through the piece is not cylindrical, and appears to have been bored from each side.
• The face shows heavy brow ridges.
• A heavy beard is indicated.
• The broad nose is very detailed, with nostrils.
• The eyes and mouth are clearly shown.
• Ears are indicated.

Photo: J. Stickney, © G. Miklashek

Chapelle Aux Saints

Reconstruction of the face of the old man of La Chapelle-aux-Saints from a plaster cast of the original skull, by M.M. Gerasimov.

This is remarkably similar to the face on the bead, and is a well publicised restoration of a Neanderthal head, probably from the 1950s when Gerasimov did his best work.

Photo: http://www.mae.nw.ru/en/temporary_exhibitions/virtual/gerasimov/05/













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