Venus of Willendorf

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Found near the town of Willendorf in Austria by an archaeologist named Joseph Szombathy, the approximately 4½ inch tall statue of a female figure most commonly known as the Venus of Willendorf or Woman of Willendorf is one of the earliest representations of the human figure ever created. The Venus of Willendorf possesses enlarged breasts, a rounded belly, and wide hips which all accentuate her fertility. Her arms and legs are extremely disproportionate as those are not vital to her fertility and femininity. Her hands rest atop her fleshy breats as if to frame and bring more focus to them. The main emphasis of this small figurine is definitely the center of her body where her breasts, pubic area and thighs all are joined to her plump belly. The ochre color that covers most of this figurine symbolizes the red color of menstrual blood that represents and is very essential to fertility. It is also interesting to note that the sculptor never made feet for this statue, as though it was not meant to stand upright. It is possible that the lack of feet would prevent the statuette from leaving when she was placed in a certain place (Witcombe). Since this statue was made between 30,000 and 25,000 BCE by people who lived in a rough ice-age environment and harsh climate, survival and extinction were serious issues. With such living conditions, and the hunter-gatherer traits of the people within that time frame, it would be quite difficult to gain so much weight (How Art Made the World). This body shape represents a woman that leads an inactive lifestyle, which most women could not, as they had to perform many tedious tasks. This fact brings up the question whether the Venus of Willendorf actually represents a woman of higher status or significance. Given the prehistoric mindset of this kind, the full body shape and obvious signs of fertility would have been deemed extremely desirable. This statuette was created from a fine porous oolitic limestone that does not belong to the...
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