Female Figures

The depiction of the human body, whether divine or mortal, has been a major concern of art since ancient times and been expressed through a wide range of forms and artistic mediums, from the intensely realistic sculptures of Classical Greece to the often highly stylised images produced by the Scythians and Celts. Figures may represent either mortal humans or anthropomorphic divinities, and in either case can often reflect an originating culture’s views on human identity, as well as the roles that different members of society were expected to fulfil. Gender is a key factor in this, and in many ancient societies women’s lives and opportunities were closely controlled by patriarchal rule. Strict expectations of female behaviour are often reflected in the art of these cultures; for example, household tasks like weaving and childcare, as well as key religious responsibilities such as ritual mourning, dancing, or processions.


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