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This assemblage of ancient female figurines recollects the world’s primordial spiritual art in all its diversity, its deep continuities and global connections.
Here is a sampling of Female Icons, Ancestral Mothers Poster identifications, from top left of the Poster: Balzi Rossi, Italy. Paleolithic, carved ivory with painted ochre traces. Seven icons were found at this site in Liguria, northwestern Italy. El Kadada, Sudan. 5th millennium bce. Clay figurine with lines highlighting hips and vulva (head broken off). Badarian period, Egypt. Ivory figurine with lapis lazuli inlaid eyes, sometime in the 4th millennium bce. Many figurines of this era were placed in burials. Kostienki, Russia. One of many paleolithic statuettes of women from this region. Valdivia, Ecuador. The oldest known female figurines in South American, starting from circa 4500 BCE in stone and continuing for thousands of years in clay, often painted with red ochre as in this example Mal’ta, Siberia. This paleolithic site near Lake Baikal has yielded numerous divine women carved in mammoth ivory. Courbet, France. Paleolithic abstract carving of a woman from the Tarn region of southern France. Tan Tan, Morocco. I’ve seen the carved enhancements on this natural rock dated to anywhere between 70,000 to 200,000 years old. Coastal Alaska. The ancient Punuk culture carved many of these images in sea mammal ivory and bone.
Ancient female figurines recollect the world’s primordial spiritual art in all its diversity.
Shown from left top: Italy, Sudan, Egypt, Russia, Ecuador, Siberia, France, Morocco, Alaska, Japan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Bulgaria, Mexico, China, Zimbabwe, Manchuria, Iraq, Iran, Peru, Turkey, Brazil, Utah, Hungary, Chad, India, Greenland, Mexico, Honduras, Argentina, Britain, Israel, Chile, Ecuador, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Illinois, Kurdistan, Sulawesi, Louisiana, Brazil, Kenya, Sudan.
Max Dashu founded the Suppressed Histories Archives in 1970 to research and document women’s history from an international perspective. She has photographed some 15,000 slides and created 100 slideshows on female power and heritages transhistorically. For nearly 40 years, Max has presented hundreds of slide talks at universities, community centers, bookstores, schools, libraries, prisons, galleries, festivals and conferences around North America.
Her work bridges the gap between academia and grassroots education. It foregrounds indigenous women passed over by standard histories and highlights female spheres of power retained even in patriarchal societies.
Max is known for her expertise on ancient female iconography in world archaeology, goddess traditions, and women shamans. She has also done extensive research on mother-right cultures and the origins of domination.