03 March 2008

Venus of Willendorf

© Berkay Dinçer

Venus of Willendorf

This photo is taken in the "İnsanın İzlerinde" exhibition, İstanbul. This figurine is a reproduction.

Venus of Willendorf, also known as the Woman of Willendorf, is an 11.1 cm (4 3/8 inches) high statuette of a female figure. It was discovered in 1908 by archaeologist Josef Szombathy at a paleolithic site near Willendorf, a village in Lower Austria near the city of Krems. It is carved from an oolitic limestone that is not local to the area, and tinted with red ochre.

Since this figure's discovery and naming, several similar statuettes and other forms of art have been discovered. They are collectively referred to as Venus figurines, even though they pre-date the mythological figure of Venus, and are not thought to be representations of that goddess.

The Venus is not a realistic portrait but rather an idealization of the female figure. Her vulva, breasts, and swollen belly, are heavily pronounced, suggesting a strong connection to fertility. Her tiny arms are folded over her breasts. The figure has no visible face, her head being covered with circular horizontal bands of what might be rows of plaited hair, or a type of headdress.

Original Venus of Willendorf is part of the collection of the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna.

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