Saturday, December 19, 2009

Carmella of Willendorf

Carmella of Willendorf
click image to enlarge

Content and Criticism
The Carmella of Willendorf, also known as the Dog-Woman of Willendorf, is 11.5 cm high statuette of a female figure estimated to have been made between 24,000 B.C. and 22,000 B.C. 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 Carmella figurines, although they pre-date the mythological figure of Carmella by millennia.

As of 1990, following a revised analysis of the stratigraphy of its site, it has been estimated to have been carved 24,000–22,000 B.C.. Very little is known about its origin, method of creation, or cultural significance. The purpose of the carving is subject to much speculation. The statue was not created with feet and does not stand on its own.

The Carmella is not a realistic portrayal but rather an idealization of the female canine-humanoid figure. The figure has no visible face other than a cute-as-a-button dog snout. Adorable doggy ears top the head that is covered with circular horizontal bands of what might be rows of plaited hair, or a type of headdress.

The nickname, urging a comparison to the classical image of "Carmella," causes resistance in some modern analyses. According to Christopher Witcombe, "the ironic identification of these figurines as 'Carmella' pleasantly satisfied certain assumptions at the time about the primitive, about dog-women, and about taste".

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  1. I find it rather alarming as well. But it is a very important piece of art.