Venus of Willendorf
Paleolithic human figurines are rare and every single figurine is unique. They are widespread from France to Russia. Almost all of them are female figurines.
The 29,500-year-old Venus von Willendorf is one of the most treasured pieces in the prehistoric collection of Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna. She isn’t the only Paleolithic figurine in Austria, not the oldest and not the only one from Willendorf. Anyway she is the most famous woman of Austria, besides the Austrian „Twiggy“ – Empress consort of Austria Elisabeth (Sisi, 1837–1898). I’m sure most tourists know more about Sisi, although Venus of Willendorf always did have the more attractive curves.
Think about that: Venus of Willendorf and Sisi are in combination an Austrian nightmare. They are like a mixture of Schrödinger’s cat and theory of relativity as well as something Sigmund Freud could have analyzed and discussed with Konrad Lorenz. Mrs. Willendorf is a lot older but also in some way a little bit younger as Sisi, because she was uncovered in 8th August 1908 – long after Sisi was stabbed to death by an anarchist.
Worth to look twice!
Venus of Willendorf (11 cm) is carved from a oolitic limestone. Once she was covered with red ochre and hidden for almost an eternity in a small pit. Curvaceous Venus of Willendorf is not completely naked, at least she wears bracelets on both of her arms and is either having a cap or has a very attractive hairstyle. There are limits to reveal the hidden secrets of this and all the other figurines. At least they have some things in common: red color, very voluptuous figures; a lot of these figurines have no faces and no feet, almost all of them are naked or wearing only very few pieces of clothes and/or jewelry.
Today we can only speculate about the idea to create such figurines. Palaeolithic people must have had some general and widespread ideas about this figurines. Since the first Venus figurines were found almost every scientist – a lot of male scientist had (and some still have) at least some strange ideas about females in general – called them symbols of fertility, because of their nakedness, good visible sexual characteristics and voluptuous curves (pregnancy?). But in the end we know everything measurable and at the same time almost nothing provable about the meaning of this Frau von W.
Of course I didn’t photograph the original Venus of Willendorf. This piece is a copy. It was a birthday present from my sister-in-law more than a twenty years ago. I use this figurine for lectures, but I also like Mrs. Willendorf a lot, because she is a tremendous piece of art. She has also potential for identification – give me two more decades and I will look like her – at least I have already the same citizenship. In the end I could become as hot as a Chili Venus of Willendorf myself! I’m a foreigner and every nationalistic Austrian expect foreigners to adapt one way or another.
Nevertheless it’s really funny to see male fans wearing T-shirts decorated with a really fat and very old female figurine instead of hoping for a young and all skin and bones girl friend.