Venus figurines interest me, as does the Paleolithic in general. Having already written a short post about these artefacts, I thought I might follow it up with a closer look at one of them…
The Venus of Willendorf is perhaps the most famous of venus figurines, although it is not the oldest.
Dating from between 24,000-22,ooo years before present, the Venus of Willendorf is carved out of oolithic limestone, and coloured with red ochre. She was unearthed in 1908, outside the village of Willendorf in Austria. The area was well-known for its paleolithic history prior to her discovery.
The detail on the Venus is amazing, even though it was carved many thousands of years ago. If you look closely you can see the details of her hands resting on top of her breasts and then there is the pattern around her head…
There has been much debate as to whether the pattern on the head represents hair, a head covering of some sort, or whether it is only that, a pattern.
What is noteworthy, is the lack of facial features. Obviously, from the rest of the figurine we know that whoever carved it had a great understanding of the female form and as we have already mentioned, the detail given to other areas is striking. So why no face?
The most often-quoted explanation is that she represents some kind of paleolithic goddess, although there is much debate surrounding this theory.
The figurine now resides in the Naturhistoriches Museum, Austria.