Thursday, December 4, 2008

Venus of Willendorf

I'm just lovin' this tattoo that comes from the Flickrstream of nearsightedharpy. For those of you who don't know the Venus of Willendorf is one of the oldest devotional statues ever found dated to approximately 24,000 BCE - 22,000 BCE. It was found in Willendorf, a village in Austria, in 1908 and measures 4 3/8 inches tall. Given its age it obviously does not represent the goddess Venus as it predates her by several millennia. However this, and a number of other very early goddess statuettes, have been given the title of Venus figurines. The general consensus is that the figures do not represent any specific goddess despite the fact that they all feature very similar attributes such as large busts, overall large body size and full bellies perhaps indicating pregnancy or a well fed individual, or both. I suspect this attitude is only partly due to the fact that there was no written language from the time period (that we know of anyway) to name a goddess. But there is also a tendency to think of the paleolithics as backward folks who didn't travel or share ideas with others thus disallowing the spread of worship of a specific goddess (or god for that matter). Some say the Venus figurines are simply idealized figures of women and that may be true. But, to me, that doesn't preclude the idea that they may indeed be the earliest goddesses.