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Mycenaean Terracotta "Phi" idol
New York | Idols
Date:  1600 BC - 1200 BC
Culture:  Early Greek
Category:  IdolsSculpture
Medium:  Terracotta
Dimension: H: 12.4 cm
Price: $16,000.00
Provenance: Ex- American Private collection,1997
Serial No: 19425

This terracotta statuette represents a slim and slender woman with rather abstract forms: the lower part is of columnar shape, the circular arms are spread and lowered, the hands are not indicated, the pointed face was made by pinching the clay between two fingers; the breast is modeled. On her head, she wears a triangular head-dress (a polos) equipped with a ribbon-shaped plait descending to the neck.

She is decorated with a number of details painted in dark brown color that echo elements of her clothes: she wears a long cylindrical skirt that entirely hides her feet, a a long sleeved tunic, striped with several oblique lines. Other traits indicate the details of the polos, of the braid and hair, but also the axis of the nose and the eyes.

Figurines of this type first appear in the late 15th century B.C. in Mycenaean tombs and sanctuaries. They are classified according to the letter of the Greek alphabet that they represent: statuettes in Psi (Ψ) with the arms raised in a gesture of epiphany, in Phi (Φ, with a circular body, like our figurine) or in Tau (the spread arms form a T with the chest). The style and shape of our example suggest a dating in the 13th century B.C.

According to some archaeologists, these representations are not without a connection with the Neolithic mother-goddess and, as such, should be included in the sphere of cults and rituals related to fertility and fecundity. Many of them were placed in sanctuaries as votive offerings; some were found in the tombs, in this case they may have served as protective deities.

The term Mycenaean (from Mycenae, an ancient citadel located near the modern-day Argos, in the Peloponnese, which, according to Homer, had been the domain of King Agamemnon; it was discovered and first excavated by H. Schliemann in the 19th century) is a synonym of the Late Helladic which designates the culture developed in Greece during the last phases of the Bronze Age (Late Bronze Age, around 1600-1100 B.C.).