Standing woman

CULTURE:
Greek; Boeotian
DATE:
first half of 6th century BCE
more object details

General Description

This female figure stands erect, facing front with her arms held out to either side. The dynamic cruciform appearance of the figure gives it power and draws our attention to its form despite the small scale. She wears a long gown decorated with various linear motifs that extends to cover her feet. The body is flat and handmade. Her hair hangs over her shoulders and consists of long rolled strips of clay painted with a zigzag pattern in black glaze with added red. The head is far more developed than the body and is mold-made. Around her neck hangs a painted pomegranate, a sure indication that this figure is meant to represent either the goddess Demeter or her daughter, Persephone.

The cult of Demeter and Persephone centered on the renewal of life. According to Greek mythology, the pomegranate was the fruit eaten by Persephone in the underworld before her ascent back to the world of the living. The pomegranate, therefore, became the symbol for immortality. It is not surprising to find terracotta figurines like this example in ancient Greek graves, especially those of children. The figurines were also dedicated at woodland shrines, major sanctuaries, and even at domestic altars as part of the household cult. The type of female figurine seen here, with handmade and mold-made parts, was especially popular in central Greece, particularly in Boeotia. Since these figurines were not meant for export but for local consumption, the coroplasts (Greek "koroplathos"), or modelers, often established their workshops in the immediate vicinity of a major town or sanctuary.

Terracotta figurines have a long history in Boeotia, first appearing there in the eighth century B.C. This particular example belongs to a group of Boeotian figurines in the Museum collections that display the stylistic developments of the female types from the late seventh to the mid-sixth century BCe.

Adapted from

  • Anne R. Bromberg, and Karl Kilinski II, Gods, Men, and Heroes: Ancient Art at the Dallas Museum of Art. (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1996), 51.

  • Anne Bromberg, Dallas Museum of Art: Selected Works, (Dallas, Texas: Dallas Museum of Art, 1983), 95.