The Woman of Willendorf and the Snake Goddess

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1 " " " The Woman of Willendorf and the Snake Goddess: How the Female Figure is Portrayed in Early Art History " " " " " " " Amber Grant ARHI 201 May 27, 2014 Liz Lawson " " " " 2 From the Paleolithic era through the classical period and beyond, the representation of women in art has transformed and evolved while at the same time keeping certain aspects constant. This changing representation of women can be seen in two works - the Woman of Willendorf (ca. 28,000-25,000 BCE) and the Snake Goddess (ca. 1650 BCE). While these figures share few commonalities, they are more different than similar. This paper will provide an examination of the similarities and differences of these two figures as well as look into how they provide information about their origin as well as the role of women in the society from which they come. Starting with the earlier figure as a representation of prehistoric art, the Woman of Willendorf provides us with a very striking and specific image of the female figure. The figure is generic in feature but specific in representation. She has small delicate arms resting upon large voluptuous bosoms, her face covered with braided hair, a robust belly and buttocks are featured prominently, with her genitalia framed by her rounded thighs. After much research and scholarly efforts many conclude that the Woman of Willendorf represents fertility. The strong emphasis on the reproductive qualities of this female figure support such argument (Janson, 10). She is generic in that her face is covered by braided hair and there are no markings or clothing to suggest a specific place of origin. Although she does not represent any one woman in particular she bares resemblance of every woman at once. The abstract quality of her composition also suggest further importance and emphasis of the reproductive elements of this figure (Janson, 10). Similar to
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