Tosca Snijdelaar: Venus Figurines. Continuity of the Apotropaic Message from the Paleolithic to the Mesolithic


Following studies that uncovered an apotropaic meaning and function of Venus figurines, for which a basis was found in bodily processes, this article examines apotropaic iconography from the end of the Late Upper Paleolithic to the Mesolithic in northern Europe. The research focuses on the Venus of Geldrop, while the retoucher from Linne is briefly discussed. These artefacts are compared to artefacts from northern and southern Europe. The apotropaic message of Venus figurines lost its form after the Magdalenian. This is the result of cultural changes caused by the receding of the ice and the ecological, technological, and social instability that accompanied it. This study proposes a substantive continuity of the apotropaic message, embodied by the accentuated vulva of female representations. Triangles and loincloths as “form euphemism” are also carriers of this message.

[apotropaism, Venus figurines, vulva, loincloth and triangle as apotropaic form euphemism, cultural transition Upper Paleolithic to Mesolithic]