- Eastern Mediterranean
- Mid - 2nd millennium B.C.
Mid-2nd millennium B.C.
H. 19.0 cm
Mid-2nd millennium B.C.
H. 13.5 cm
This pair of small figures stand with their bodies tilted backward and both are seen with their left hand held down while their right hands are held up to their foreheads. The woman has wavy hair which is bound on the back of her head and hangs to the back of her hips. Her upper body is clothed in a tight-fitting short-sleeved garment, while a decorative collar extends from the neck to both sides of the chest to meet over the belly, thereby greatly emphasizing the breasts. The waist is wrapped in three layers of thick bands which are narrowly bound and fastened at the right side. The front center of her skirt is decorated with a band and the long skirt has either folds on each side or a layered hem. The male figure has long wavy hair depicted in an amazingly detailed form. He wears short pants, and is wearing shoes.
Similar small male and female figures in bronze have been found in many of the cave temples dating from the Middle Minoan to the Late Minoan period, and they were also worshipped in mountain top temples or on home altars. This form is said to represent a worshipper honoring a god appearing from above, and this interpretation was confirmed by intaglio carving found on a ring of the period.
This pair of small figures was made by the lost wax casting method, and while the male figure was solid cast, only the upper body of the female figure was solid cast, while her lower body was hollow cast. These two figures have the same kind of handling, while the detailed handling of motifs was quite rare, particularly that seen in the individual locks of hair, earrings, necklace, bracelet and decorative bands on the garments. Similar examples of female figures are generally less than 10 centimeters in height, and the majority of them do not show this attention to detailed handling of motifs.
There are many similarities in the details and styles of jewelry and clothing between this female figure and the female figures excavated on Crete, Thera, and those seen in the wall paintings excavated from the ruins of temples on the Balkan peninsula. The male figure does not exhibit the bowed body posture found on the similar bronze male figures of the Late Minoan period excavated on Crete, but his clothing, bracelets, shoes and positions of both arms are exactly the same. A male figure in the same style on a soapstone vessel comes from the Hagia Triada on Crete and it is thought that this represents a high ranking person. During this period the king and the royal family also acted as priests and priestesses in ritual events, and the resemblance of the two exhibited works to such examples leads to the thought that they were both created for high-ranking people.
This woman statuette (cat. no. 013) stands upright but bends her upper body slightly backwards as if to look up at something, holding her right hand at her forehead. Her left arm is held by her side. Her wavy hair is braided behind the head, and hangs down to reach her waist. She is wearing a short-sleeved and tight-fitting shirt emphasizing her breast. A broad belt wraps around her waist three times, and is knotted on the right side. With a decorative sash hanging down the front center, she wears large earrings, a two-fold necklace, and bracelets. Delicate and detailed expressions abound in this work. This statuette has features in common with those of priestesses of the mid- to late Minoan era, made of faience, and with female images seen in murals excavated from the remains of temples on Crete. The male statuette (cat. no. 012), in a similar posture and perhaps belonging to the same group, was produced using a surprisingly delicate method in the expression of wavy hair, accessories, and muscle tone. This also has features in common with the male images seen in steatite vessels of later Minoa from Crete.
Small bronze statuettes modeled after a man or a woman like the present pieces were dedicated to many temples in caves or on the summit of mountains, as well as in private homes from the mid- to late Minoan era.
This pose is apparently that of a worshipping follower of a religion whose god has just made an appearance in the sky. These two statuettes represent royal or aristocratic persons devoted to the service of a god, and as sur rogates of such persons symbolize their constant and eternal worship before that god. Their facial expressions, with their radiant smiles, are of a kind also seen on human figures in Minoan Art.