Stargazer: Statuette of a Woman

Today, I’d like to share with you a little piece of art history. One of my favorite pieces in the Cleveland Museum of Art, Statuette of a Woman:”The Stargazer” c. 3000 BC is a marble figurine depicting a woman gazing up at the heavens.

Unearthed in modern day Turkey, this figure is one of around 30 found, and she is one of the few found intact. She is believed to be one of the earliest depictions of the human form.

All we know of these statuettes is where they were found, approximately when they were buried, and what the details suggest. As such, it’s unsurprising that little about this figure can be found online.

Found buried in Western Anatolia, these figurines are at least 5,000 years old. Trace elements found on the surface of the translucent marble statuette suggest that this figure was once painted.

Of a face, there are only 2 small eyes in relief, and a raised ridge to represent a nose. The pelvis of the Stargazer has carved lines, indicating that she perhaps represents a female. Her head, oblong and carved in the round, is raised to the sky, while her body is carved mostly flat and in profile. In fact, with her flat body, narrow feet, and full head, this 6 3/4 inch figurine can’t even stand upright without support.

Many of the figures found have been decapitated. Was the separation of head from body deliberate, or merely a result of being buried for 5,000 years?

If these figures were to break anywhere, surely the neck would be the most likely location. It has been questioned whether the necks were broken intentionally for the sake of some sort of ritual now lost through time.

Was she meant to be displayed, to be held, to be buried? And if she were meant to be displayed, could her original pose have been laying down, seeing as how she can’t stand on her own? How would that change in position affect the ways that we think about this piece?

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