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Introduction to Neolithic Figurine Art






Early renderings of animals and humans were schematic (Çayönü, Cafer Hüyük, Gritille, Suberde etc.), with the exception of some big figurines/statues from Nevalli Çori.

The most numerous known material comes mainly from the large settlements of Çatal Hüyük and Hacilar (Late 7th and 6th mill).

The early figurine art of Çatal Hüyük (levels XII-X) produced a series of carefully worked, naturalistic stone or clay figurines, found in places looking as shrines. On the other hand, however, there were also crude schematic representations, almost always found isolated in the mudbrick walls of these “shrines” or grouped in nearby pits where they were probably buried after use in some ceremony (as for example is the case of intentionally broken or perforated animals).

Figurines/statuettes of the first category represented mainly a female, and less often a male, probably in different ages and states – pregnancy, parturition, subjugation of wild beasts etc. Their genitalia were never indicated and the female bodies were often adorned with jewellery, footwear and occasionally with painted floral motifs. Sometimes they rendered twin figures and a case of such twin females recalls a similar mural relief where one of the women is in labour. Çatal Hüyük figurines also formed modelled groups together with wild beasts (mainly a bull but also a leopard, ram, bear, boar, fox, vulture), although these beasts could be also depicted alone as mural reliefs or paintings.

No figurines are known until now from Aceramic Hacilar (Late 8th and Early 7th mill). All the material comes from the Late Neolithic level (level VI, 6th mill) of the settlement. Although these levels did not reveal the kind of buildings considered to be shrines at Çatal Hüyük, they presented the same distinction between crude and carefully modelled figurines. The latter, grouped near house hearths (often in piles of seeds), were predominantly female, males being restricted to small children carried in the females’ arms. No twins or animals have yet been unearthed. Hacilar figurines represented probably one and the same female in different stages of her life, either naked or dressed, in various ages and poses. Figurines never had footwear or jewellery but were often embellished with white-painted patterns. Analogous material is known from the settlement of Çukurkent.

Crude clay figurines with inlaid wooden head or flat schematic examples with incised decoration have also been found in Hacilar houses grouped together or alone. Schematic twin and male figures have been found in burials only in the later phases of the settlement (levels V-II).

Introduction | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 |
Chapter 4: Α.
- Β. - C. - D. - Ε. - F. | Chapter 5