Monday, June 11, 2007


If you've never seen this exquisite Goddess from all angles before, here She is in all Her glory: front, back and side.

This of course is the famous predynastic Egyptian bird goddess. She's 11.7" high.

Made of baked clay, She wears a white dress below the waist. Her body is red and Her long black hair falls onto her neck.

She's so carefully fashioned She even has tiny fingers and thumbs incised onto her tiny hands. Although She has a bird's beak, She has no other facial features.

Before the Pharoahs ever set foot on Egyptian soil, before war and slavery were invented, before the days when snooty snobbism hit the deck, this Goddess was loved and adored by the people of Egypt.


Aquila ka Hecate said...

Isn't She gorgeous?

I never knew that Her arms were curved back like that-looks as if She's about to cast something.

Terri in Joburg

Athana said...

That's what surprised me too, Terri -- her arms are behind her head. As if She's building force to throw something. My first thought was that She looks like a bird in flight, with Her wings on the uptake.

It's too bad the books we see these images in don't show all of them like this, in 3D.

I got this from Ucko's Anthropomorphic Figurines of Predynastic Egypt and Neolithic Crete. He shows quite a few in 3D.

Anne Johnson said...

Definitely has vulture DNA. And don't be offended, because vultures are excellent parents who keep their young with them for at least 2 years.

Aquila ka Hecate said...

Hey yes! That's right Anne-definately something vulturine about it!

I tired that posture when stretching from my desk yesterday-it's surprisingly comfortable, and unsurprisingly has a feel of imminent power to it.

Aquila ka Hecate said...

Sorry, that should be definitely!

Terri in Joburg

Livia said...

Love the blog! I was wondering, did you coin the term thealogy? I would like to use that as a category on my blog.

Athana said...

No offense taken, anne. Vultures have been associated with the Great Guiding Goddess as far back as 8000 years ago. At one of the oldest human settlements known, Catalhoyuk (in what's now Turkey), the vulture was in the art everywhere you turned. Along with wild cats and the Goddess. Even though the Catalhoyukians had domesticated several animal species, the animals associated with Goddess at Catalhoyuk are the wild, untamed ones -- like the vulture.

Athana said...

Terri, a woman who was in grad school with me wrote a book insisting that all the old prehistoric figurines were merely "recipes" for body postures that would throw a person (in the right context) into healing and other kinds of trance. It's a fascinating book: *Where the Spirits Ride the Wind.* She backs this up of course with objective data.

Athana said...

livia thnx for the praise! Around here, all praise is welcomed and cherished!

No, I can't take credit for coining the term thealogy. There's a whole long history behind the term, which if you're interested you can read about in Wikipedia.

Thalia said...

I've heard (though I can't remember where, so this is going to amount to an unsubstantiated rumor) that some scholars think this figurine represents a Cow Goddess because Her arms look like cow's horns. I don't know just when cow-worship started among the Egyptians, but worship of Cow Goddesses like Hathor and Bat date back to the Old Kingdom.

Athana said...

I can't quite see cow's horns here, thalia, but of course that doesn't make it not so. If the claywoman wanted to represent a cow, though, you'd think she'd put the horns on the head versus at the shoulders -- and at exactly the place where wings and arms originate.

Morgaine said...

These things are so subjective - I don't see a beak at all. It looks like a chin to me. Those upstretched arms appear in many little figurines and paintings. I always associate them with the crescent moon rather than wings, but I don't know the specific context in which this figurine was found.

Thanks for the 3D view! I saw details I've never seen before!

Athana said...

Morgaine -- It's like a Rorschach test, maybe.

It didn't occur to me there'd be so many ideas about what this goddess type might be or represent or symbolize.

She was found in "Tomb No. 2; at south end near head of contracted skeleton. Ma'amerieh." I guess they haven't determined if the skeleton belonged to a male or female.

Livia said...

Fascinating! Thanks for the tip.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. I don't think the theories about cow's horns, vulture wings etc. are necessarily incompatible. Ancient art can carry lots of meanings -Pignut