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                                                         Early Cycladic Figurines
 
Cycladic idol from Syros

Early Cyladic figurines are the most important works of Cycladic art . They usually represent standing female naked figures whose ancient prototypes are the neolithic female figurines of the Greek mainland Aegean and Anatolia .They are made of marble in nearly every case and are of different size. The form is fat and simple.

In the Early Cycladic I period (Grotta-Pelos culture 3200-2800 B.C) characteristic types are:       

a) The schematic figurines which are flat pieces of marble with a vague anthropomorphic outline. The most characteristic is the violin-shaped one ,so called because of its shape resembling that of a violin. A typical feature of the schematic figurines is that they all lack any clear indication of the head.

b) The Plastiras type named after the cemetery of Plastiras in north Paros. It is the most naturalistic type  of the Cycladic figurines.

The figure is standing; the arms bent at the elbows, rest on the stomach. Some of the features of the face, legs, fingers and pubic area, are modelled.

c) The Louros type, known from the Louros cemetary of Naxos. The figure is standing and, again, has some plastic features. There are no facial features and no arms, just stumps at the shoulders.

 

In the Early Cycladic II period (Keros - Syros Culture, 2800 - 2300 B.C.) the characteristic type is the standing one. The arms are folded at the waist and the head somewnat tilted back. The legs are often slightly bent at the knees and. in most cases, the feet are inclined as if the figure was standing on tiptoe. Facial features or parts of the body are usually shown by modelling as well as by incision or paint. Several varieties of the folded arm type can be distinguished based on differences in the outline or the modelling of the body. These are: the Kapsala. Spedos, Dokathismata and Chalandriani varieties, named after the cemeteries of Amorgos, Naxos and Syros, where these varieties were first found. The schematic type is also often manufactured with a quadrilateral outline and a rough indication of the head which is the main difference of this type from the previous one.

In this period Cycladic sculpture also produces statues reaching a height up to 1.50 m. There is also'a series of figures which are three dimensional. The best examples are the musicians, the seated or standing male figures playing musical instruments. In this flourishing period of Cycladic sculpture and Cycladic civilisation in general, the diffusion of the figurines throughout the Aegean is wide either through export or through local manufacture.

In the Early Cycladic III period (Phylakopi I Culture, 2300 - 2100 B.C.) the manufacture of the figurines is significantly restricted. A schematic type with a conical outline and two small horizontal stumps for the indication of the hands is characteristic of this period. Such figurines have been found at Phylakopi on Melos and at Agia Irini on Keros.

Several views about the significance of the Cycladic figurines have been put forward. They have been interpreted as figures of the Great Mother, goddess of fertility as apotropaic figures or psychopompoi as nymphs or heroes, as figures of revered ancestors or divine nursemaids. Whatever their meaning, the Early Cycladic figurines are outstanding works of art in the history of sculpture.

 

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