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G.L. Hoffman, Painted Ladies. Early Cycladic II Mourning Figures? American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 106, No. 4 (Oct., 2002), pp. 525-550

G.L. Hoffman, Painted Ladies. Early Cycladic II Mourning Figures? American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 106, No. 4 (Oct., 2002), pp. 525-550

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Painted Ladies: Early Cycladic II Mourning Figures?Author(s): Gail L. HoffmanSource:
American Journal of Archaeology,
Vol. 106, No. 4 (Oct., 2002), pp. 525-550Published by: Archaeological Institute of AmericaStable URL:
Accessed: 09/02/2010 15:06
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Painted
Ladies:
Early
Cycladic
II
Mourning
Figures?
GAILL. HOFFMAN
AbstractThe functionandmeaningofEarly Cycladicfigureshaslongbeen debated. Withmanysculptures lackingcleararchaeologicalcontexts and theever-presentcon-cernaboutforgeries,anysignificantadvanceinour un-derstandingof these workshas seemedunlikely.Byfocus-ingonpainttraces,ararely-studieddetail of thesculp-tures,this articlesuggeststhatasmallgroupof folded-armfigures(FAFs),preservedwithred verticalstripespaintedon theircheeks,representmourning figuresusedinfuneraryritual.Combiningcloseobservation of theFAFsand their one assured context(ingraves),ancientGreekevidence aboutfigureuse andfunerals,aswell asethnographicstudyoffigureuses,tisarguedthatCycladicfigureshad a use-life before burial and thatfigureswouldbepainted multipletimes and with different motifs toreflect theirchangingrolesinsuch events asinitiations,marriages,and funerals.Finally,heCycladicigures mayreflect thedevelopmentofancestorritualnEarlyCycladicsocietyinpartas aresponseto scarcenatural resources.*Theimportanceofpropermourningfor the deadis evident infifth-centuryGreekart andliterature,where women's rolesinfunerals wereespeciallycrit-ical. Muchearlier,ca.2500B.C.,women'sroles asmourners wereprobably equallycentral tosociety.At thattime,I willargue, importantindividuals weremournedthroughthedisplayduringa funeral cer-emonyofpaintedmarblesculptureswhich were thenleftasofferingsinthe deceased'sgrave.The detailsofpublicfuneralsand their functionswithinsocietychange throughtime; however,closeexaminationof theactualexpressionsandgesturesofgriefaswell as women's central roleinmourningshow thatthese elementsofthe funeral remainremarkablyconsistent over the millenniaseparatingfifth-centu-ryAthensfrom theEarlyBronzeAge Cyclades.Since theirdiscoveryin theearly19thcentury,Cycladicmarblefigureshaveprovoked speculationabout theirpossibleuses andmeanings.'Afull un-derstandingofthe functions ofCycladic figuresinEarly Cycladicsocietyislimitedbya lack of cleararchaeologicalcontexts,2 whileanunderstandingof theirmeaningsishampered bytheabsence oftextual evidence and theroughly4,500years sepa-ratingus fromthe culturethat made them.Al-thoughfrom such a distance we canonlyhypothe-size about therituals andideologyofEarly Cycladicislanders,afrequentlyoverlooked feature of thefigures-tracesofpainted decoration-mayoffer awayto refine ourinterpretationsof their functions.Perhapsbecausepaintiseasilyvisible on rela-tivelyfewfigures(andispoorly preserved)littlein-depthconsideration exists about itssignificance.ArecentdissertationbyHendrixprovidesthefull-estcorpusto dateofpaintedfigures.3In some cas-es,purelyanatomicalfeaturesarerendered,thoughinothers,decorativepatternsare drawn on thefig-ures' surfaces. Commentators havesuggestedthesepatterns signalapracticeoftattooingorbody paint-inginEarly Cycladicculture.4Afew havegonefur-*Iwould like toacknowledgethemany peoplewho havehelpedandencouragedme with hisarticle,speciallyPat Getz-Gentle,ElizabethHendrix,ArthurW.Hoffman,andJoyceL.Hoffman;GregoryNagyand the Centerfor HellenicStudies,especiallyheir librarianswho workedtirelesslyoacquirere-search materials orme;J.J.Pollitt,LaurenTalalay,andGor-donWilliams.I would like tothank thetwoanonymousAJAreaderswhose comments andsuggestionswereveryconstruc-tive andhelpful.AndIwould also like to thankaudiences ofYale alumni and at lectures at BostonCollege, GeorgeWash-ington University,MiamiofOhio, Rice,Wesleyan,WilliamandMary,ndYale.
1
Onthe distinctionbetween use or function andmeaning,seeTalalay1993,38.2Nearlyallwho discuss hefiguresamentthe loss of archae-ologicalcontexts. On thiscatastrophe,eeesp.Gill andChip-pindale1993. There are also some whoarguescholarlyworkon thefiguresshouldbelimitedbecause ofthe lack ofprove-nance and because t serves oencouragethemarket or these
objects.Onthedebate,Broodbank2000,58-65; 1992;Sher-ratt2000,137-8;Renfrew1991, 21-4; 1993;Cherry1992,140-4;Elia1993.
SHendrix000.For a briefdiscussion,see Hendrix 1997-
1998,4-15.
4
Giventhevarietyof materialsdedicated topaint prepara-tion andapplicationhat have been found(pigment,jarswithstoredpigment,bowlsorgrinding,palettesorpaint prepara-tion,bone and bronzetubes forapplication), certainlybodypaintingmusthavebeen animportantpartofCycladiculture.
Renfrew1991,122;Getz-Preziosi1985, 55;Zervos1957,44.Tattooingmayalsohave beenpracticed.Bonn1996;Brood-bank2000,248(whereheobserves thatcopperneedles found
ingravescouldserveortattooing);Sherratt2000,43-5.Cin-nabarwould be toxicif used fortattooing(ibid. 117-8).Carter
1994,136-7suggeststhat obsidian and metalblades foundingraveswere used forshaving,however,suchimplements might
also be suitable orcicatrizationscarification)r eveninsomecases,tattooing.Onmetaluse,seeNakou 1995.
525
AmericanJournalof Archaeology106(2002)525-50
 
526GAIL L. HOFFMAN[AJA106ther,proposingthat these decorations"mayreflectthewaythe faces of the dead werepaintedfor buri-al,"5evenstating,"It istemptingto think that theskin of thedeceased owner of afigure(andper-hapshis mournersaswell)would have beenpaint-ed with the samepatternsaspartof the funeralpreparations."6I take this observationfurthertoarguethat someCycladicfigureswerepaintedatthe timeof thefuneraryritual withredverticalstri-ationson their cheeks intended toreproducetheeffectof facial laceration.Thesefigureswere thencarried asrepresentationsof mournersduringthefuneralbeforefinally being placedasimagesofmournersin somegraves.Also,because avarietyofdifferentpatternsarepaintedon thefigures,theiruseas mourners reflectsonlyoneamonga numberofpossiblefunctions. Other decorationsmay pre-serve evidencefor thefigures'useinpuberty,initi-ation,ormarriagerituals.Ananswer towhysuchelaboratefigureswerecreated at allmaybe linkedtopracticesofprestige displayandperhapstheexistenceof ancestorritual,whichis a common fea-tureofearly villagesocieties.In theCyclades,an-cestor ritualmayalso havedeveloped,inpart,as aresponseto scarce natural resources.
CYCLADICFIGURES
Sculptureswith Painted VerticalStriationsThere are threeCycladicheadsandtwo(per-hapsthree)fullfiguresthatpreservetraces of redpaintedverticalstriations on the cheeks. Onehead,saidbyWoltersto be fromAmorgos,is nowintheAthens National Museum(fig.1).7Unusually large,it measures29cm. Since thelargest preservedcom-pletestatue has a smaller head(ca.25cm)and atotalheightof about 1.48
m,8
ifwe had thebodybelongingto the Athenshead,it wouldpresum-ablyconstitute anearlylife-sizesculpture.In addi-tion to its unusualsize,thesculptedears and mouthare alsoatypical-mostCycladicheads lack bothFig.1. Athens N.M.inv.no. 3909.Cycladichead,29cm,said to befromAmorgos.(AfterRenfrew1991,pl.72,withpermissionfrom theMinistryofCulture,NationalArchaeologicalMuseum nAthens)features.9 The surface of thehead isabraded,yetthetraces ofpaintare visible innaturallight:fourvertical red strokeson the statue's left cheek andfaint horizontalmarks on the foreheadremain,asdo traces of the lefteyeand aprobableverticalmarkon the nose. Adrawingfrom the 1890s(fig.2)recordspaintedremains ofvertical striations on therightcheek as well asfurther traces ofpainted eyes.Asecondhead,intheCopenhagenNational Mu-seum,isonly slightlysmaller,measuring24.61cm(fig.3).10Thepaintedvertical red marks on bothcheeks arewell-preserved,four on eitherside,as5Getz-Preziosi987, 53;see also Goodison1989,11;Dou-
mas1968,52.
6
Getz-Preziosi987,107. Similartatementscan be foundin PreziosiandWeinberg1970, 11;Zervos1957,44;Hendrix2000,158.Renfrew1984,29;1991,117)suggestspaintwouldhaveprovidedpecificattributes;roodbank2000,63-4;1992,
544)says paint probably providedcrucialsocialmessages.7AthensN.M.inv.no. 3909. Prakt(1888, 62-3)where it islisted asstone4270;Wolters1891, 46-7;Renfrew1984,29(whereit ismistakenlynumbered3903);Renfrew1991, 117,pls.72,113;Papathanassopoulos1981,figs.112-6;Zervos1957,figs.177-8.;Hendrix2000,38-9 no.11.sWolters1891, 47,where it is listed asArchaeologicalSoci-etystone4223.Thisisprobablythe samepiecenow numberedAthens N.M.inv.no. 3978. Renfrew1991,pl.104;1984, 29;Zervos1957,fig.297.Measurementsvaryfrom 148.3 cm to
153 cm. For a listofsculpturesover 70cm,see Gill andChip-pindale1993, 620,table 8.9Othersculptureswith ears:PreziosiandWeinberg1970,7
n.16,10 n. 36. Onthe lack ofmouths,perhaps having sepul-chralsymbolism:Getz-Preziosi1987,53.See, however,Hen-drix2000, 95-7,table1for a listoffigureswithpaintedmouths.10CopenhagenNational Museumno. 4697. Getz-Preziosi(1987, 100)proposesanoriginalstatueheightof 98 cmforthisfigure, notingit is of an"unusually grandscale." Getz-Prez-iosi1987, 100,105fig.42h, 106,pl.7d,160 no.36;Copen-hagenNationalmuseet1950,48 no.2(wherethefacial marksare described astattooing)andpl.11;Thimme1977,pl.5a,468;Getz-Preziosi1987,160(Goulandris Master)no.36,pl.
7d,fig.42h;Renfrew1991,pl.71; 1969,pl.8a;Hendrix2000,
80 n. 50.

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