The woman of willendorf: symbol of procreation

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Alexis Tatyana Rubio, Art History, 2011
The Woman of Willendorf: Symbol of Procreation
The Woman of Willendorf is not only considered a significant symbol of prehistory but is also one of the firstartistic manifestations that show the body of a human being. This extraordinary piece is an 11 cm (4.3 in) high statuette estimated to have been made between 24,000 and 22,000 BCE. It was discoveredin 1908 by archaeologist Josef Szombathy at a paleolithic site near Willendorf, a village in Lower Austria near the city of Krems. And it was carved from oolitic limestone, colored with red orche.Judging by its curvilinear form and the detail on its external female reproductive organs one can deduce that this figure is the representation of a female form. In that event, this voluptuous, roundedfemale sculpture emphasizes the importance of the body, perhaps because for these prehistoric civilizations the woman’s body served primarily as an instrument of procreation, ensuring the existenceand continuity of the community.
During the Paleolithic, humans grouped together in small societies and subsisted by gathering plants and hunting or scavenging wild animals. For there was alwayssufficient numbers of hunters and protectors, it was necessary that the tribal women were fertile and gave birth to many children to ensure the continuity of the clan. For this reason it could be possiblethat this sculpture had a religious significance or that was involved in some kind of ritual to bring fertility and prosperity to the community. Furthermore, its small size would fit in the handallowing it to be touched and rubbed which could mean that was created as an amulet to help woman be more fertile and give birth to more children. Even though her facial features are almost imperceptible,her body is well defined; highlighting huge breasts, which rest also on a huge belly, under it a well-defined vulva opens between two thighs of the same size as the rest of the body. Most likely,...
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