CYCLADIC SOCIETY

Social focus

Early Cycladic culture has its roots in the Cycladic islands’ Neolithic past. Early Cycladic art developed within this tradition, hence its markedly anthropocentric character

The anthropocentric character of Cycladic Culture

Early Cycladic culture has its roots in the Cycladic islands’ Neolithic past. Early Cycladic art developed within this tradition, hence its markedly anthropocentric character. In the Early Bronze Age Cyclades, the individual emerges as the society’s basic and dominant focus. Man and woman, whose union produces the family, were the cornerstone of Early Cycladic society, as reflected in this period’s anthropomorphic creations. 

Neolithic representations of the human figure, particularly female, put an emphasis on its reproductive capacity. Standing and seated steatopygic female figurines, with their excessively large buttocks, are characteristic creations of the Neolithic period. These developed into the violin-shaped figurine, the most common Early Cycladic I type, a schematic rendering of the voluptuous Neolithic female figure, often with naturalistic details such as the breasts and pubic triangle, both characteristic of the female sex.

It is also interesting that most naturalistic figurines represent naked women, although some male figurines also occur. Interestingly some figurines represent pregnant women or women who have just given birth. The biological attribute of women to generate life was represented in a simple and clear way, giving a clear reference to fertility, reproduction, and motherhood.  Double figurines further suggest that reproduction and regeneration were prevalent concepts in Early Cycladic society.

Finally, a unique fragmentary group comprising a large figurine holding a smaller one, identified as a “mother and child”, may indicate the role of the family as the nucleus of Early Cycladic society.

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