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Work Worshipper

Department of Near Eastern Antiquities: Levant

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Worshipper

© 2000 RMN / Franck Raux

Near Eastern Antiquities
Levant

Author(s):
Franceschi Isabelle

This votive statue represents a local dynast bearing propitiary offerings. The wreath of leaves and flowerbuds on his head refer to a religious festival celebrating the annual death and rebirth of plants. The slight smile on the face, the style of the torso, the folds on the garment and the overall rigid form of the statue reflect the influence of archaic Greek sculpture.

A statue designed as an ex-voto

This statue is a rare example of an almost complete sculpture of a worshipper, dating from the 5th century BC, of the type given in offering to shrines in central Cyprus, Golgoi and Idalion in particular. The statue represents a local dignitary who is holding symbolic offerings - a small box of incense in his right hand and what was probably a bird in his left hand, although only the marks where the piece was broken off remain. The wreath of plants he wears on his head is a typical religious attribute in Cypriot statuary. It refers to religious festivals celebrating the cycle of fertility, death, and rebirth in Nature. The statue was designed as an ex-voto. The constant presence of the effigy in the shrine represents the perpetual religious devotion of the worshipper and brings him the permanent protection of the deity.

A typical piece of Cypriot art

Cypriot art stands at the crossroads of the Orient and the Mediterranean spheres of influence. The techniques of monumental sculpture were brought to the island in the 7th century BC by its Eastern neighbors. From the late 6th century BC, Cypriot sculpture reflects the increasing influence of the Ionian, and later the Athenian, styles. A number of aspects of this statue, sculpted in the round, reveal the influence of archaic Greek sculpture. The slight smile, the pointed nose, the carving of the torso, the broad neck and shoulders, the puffed-out chest, and the pose of the sculpture - standing with the left leg forward - are all typical of Greek kouroi. The style of the folds in the tunic, or chiton, and the Ionian cloak or himation, resemble the garments worn by antique korai, particularly in the way the himation goes under the right arm and over the left shoulder and forms a number of flat vertical folds down the front of the torso, finishing in a series of zigzagging drapes. The rigid style of the statue as a whole can be partly explained by the difficulty of carving the friable limestone and the necessity of sculpting the statue from a single block. This rigid aspect is also shared by the Kore of Samos (MA686), a pillar statue inspired by Middle Eastern art, reflecting the Oriental canon which the Phenicians passed on to the Greeks. However, there are important differences between the two works. This statue is very flat and gives very little impression of three-dimensional volume when viewed from the side. Color, also used in Greek statuary, plays a vital role in bringing life to the rather flat, uniform surface of the sculpture. The traces of red pigment at the base of the Idalion worshipper's neck indicate that it was originally painted. Pale blue and red were used to touch up the eyes, the hair, and the garments. Yellow was used exclusively for jewelry. The delicate, porous, opaque surface of the limestone meant that colors were easy to apply and quickly absorbed.

Bibliography

Caubet Annie, Hermary Antoine, Catalogue des Antiquités du musée du Louvre : sculptures, musée du Louvre, département des Antiquités orientales, Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1989.
Caubet Annie, Hermary Antoine, Karageorghis Vasos (sous la dir. de),
Art antique de Chypre au musée du Louvre : du chalcolithique à l'époque romaine, Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1992, Athènes, Kapon, 1992.
Spiteris Tony, Art de Chypre, des origines à l'époque romaine, Paris, Éditions Cercle d'Art, 1970.

Technical description

  • Worshipper

    Cypro-Classical (second quarter of 5th century BC)

    Idalium

  • Limestone, traces of polychromy

    H. 1.53 m; W. 0.40 m; D. 0.17 m

  • Gift of Guillaume-Rey, 1860

    N 1085

  • Near Eastern Antiquities

    Sully wing
    Ground floor
    Levant: Cyprus, 9th–1st century BC
    Room 21

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