Set of seven ceramic figurines of varying sizes.
Recreations of artefacts from ancient cultures. Awarded University of Edinburgh Acquisition Award 2017
All seven pieces were created with terracotta clay by coil building and were glazed. The colour of the glazes and the poses of the figures were inspired by real historic artefacts. For example, the red figurine is inspired by ‘Terracotta model of a woman seated at an oven, 500 BC’ displayed in the British Museum. Red was a colour normally reserved for male flesh but the figure was perhaps painted red because she is watching a loaf of bread bake in an oven.
The poses of these seven figures were inspired most directly from Syrian artefacts 1100 BC, Iron Age II figures from the Bethlehem tomb 7th c BC and Cypriot figures 1700-1200 BC.
Accompanying text upon installation reads:
Minoan Fertility Goddess Figurines
Excavated in 1967 from a sanctuary site outside of Akrotiri, Santorini (1700 - 1400 BCE)
Associated with the practises of mystery cult ritual, these figurines were left as votive offerings by girls as a coming of age ceremony before marriage.
The island of Santorini was a major centre of trade, which developed into a pilgrimage site for peoples in the Minoan cultural sphere.
The range of glaze colours and poses of the figurines are a result of the diverse groups that travelled to this sanctury site. The more reserved poses are associated with the peoples of Santorini, while the female empowerment stances are attributed to Crete.
The blue gaze later developed as an attempt to mimic the colour of the semi-precious stone, lapis lazuli that was introduced to the Cylades as a result of intense contact with Phoenician traders. These later figurines manifested as physical depictions of goddesses instead of simply votive.