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Anthropomorphic and Zoomorphic Miniature Figures in Eurasia, Africa and Meso-America Morphology, materiality, technology, function and context Edited by

Dragos Gheorghiu Ann Cyphers

BAR International Series 2138 2010

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Anthropomorphic and Zoomorphic Miniature Figures in Eurasia, Africa and Meso-America: Morphology, materiality, technology, function and context

Š Archaeopress and the individual authors 2010

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Neolithic Ceramic Figurines in the Shape of a Woman – House from the Republic of Macedonia Nikos Čausidis

Abstract Objects usually called ‘altars’, some of which have been previously published, are common to the territory of the Republic of Macedonia and appear to be specific to the Central Balkan region. In this paper we present a typology of these objects and attempt to relate the different types and subtypes into a unique system where their mutual genetic relations may be defined. In spite of the absence of immediate parallels, comparable objects of this period include ceramic models of houses from southeast Europe and the Near East. Based on a symbolic and iconographic analysis, we suggest they were cult objects of the ‘woman--house’ type. We propose they represent deified and personalized houses which symbolize several categories and functions (i.e., the power to give birth, to produce, to protect, to feed, to maintain life, to gather and to organize people, to operate community and probably to reproduce and resurrect the deceased). The meaning and cultic use of these objects are revealed by the comparative method and especially by their synchronic and diachronic aspects. The parallels for the symbolic relation of ‘woman-house’ or its wider meaning ‘woman- dwelling’, is found in several classical cultures and especially in folklore traditions in several populations from European and Asian regions, and even abroad. The general symbolic meaning of some house elements and comparative material leads us to propose several hypotheses for the cultic use of these Neolithic objects from the Republic of Macedonia: for libation or lighting and for; imitative magic in which objects were inserted in them (e.g., icon lamp, grain, bread and milk), so that in the real house ‘the hearth is forever active’ and plenty of food may be stored. Key-words: Neolithic; Republic of Macedonia; house models; typology of ‘Woman-House’ models; symbolism of dwellings; ethnographic analogies.

Introduction The Neolithic, as well as later Eneolithic sites from the Balkans and abroad, are well known from finds of ceramic models in the shape of a house. Examples are known for several countries, including Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, Moldova and Ukraine (and others). A number of these objects also are found in the Republic of Macedonia (Mantu Lazarovici 2004; Gimbutas 2000; Müller-Karpe 1968, Taf. 108, 150, 157, 159, 165, 208; Müller-Karpe 1974, Taf. 45, 677, 678, 688). As well, they appear as ceramic urns in the Iron Age cultures of Western Europe and Etruria (Oelmann 1959; Hoernes 1925, 528-534). Over the last fifty years a new type of object found in Neolithic settlements in the Republic of Macedonia (Fig. 1) represents a combination of a house and a human body (Figs. 2-7). The bottom portion is hollow and cubic in shape and represents the house (realistic or schematic); and the upper portion is an anthropomorphic hollow cylinder open at the top that is the roof of the house and is modelled in the shape of a human head or woman`s figure, often with sexual characteristics. The height of these objects is between 15 to 50 cm (Čausidis 2007; Kolištrkoska Nasteva 2005; Sanev 2006; Zdravkovski 2008).

Fig. 1: Republic of Macedonia. Map of sites where Neolithic ceramic figurines of ‘Woman – House’ type are found (N. Čausidis).


Anthropomorphic and Zoomorphic Miniature Figures in Eurasia, Africa and Meso-America Morphology, Materiality, Technology, Function, and Context

Recently in this region, about 100 complete and fragmented ceramic cultic objects of this kind were found and usually are dated in the Middle Neolithic, with several in the Late Neolithic. The present paper will review the figurines of this kind that have been published to date. There are two basic groups of these objects, based on their site provenance and associated cultural features, which are presented in detail below.

Fig. 3: Neolithic ceramic figurines of ‘Woman – House’ type. Republic of Macedonia: 1, 3, 4, 6 - 9. Porodin, Bitola; 2, 5. Velušina, Bitola. 1, 2. (Čausidis 1995, 31, 30); 3, 4, 7. (Grbić at al. 1960, T.VIII: 1, 2, 3). 5. (Simoska - Sanev 1976, sl. 43); 6. (Gimbutas 1974, 62 - Fig. 34); 8. (Kolištrkoska Nasteva 2005, 59 - kat. br. 43); 9. (Garašanin 1979, T.XVI: 7).

Fig. 2: Neolithic ceramic figurines of ‘Woman – House’ type. Republic of Macedonia: A - I. Schematic outline of the basic types (N. Čhausidis).

Fig. 4: Neolithic ceramic figurines of ‘Woman – House’ type. Republic of Macedonia: 1. Optičari, Bitola (Mikulčić 1984, 13); 2. Optičari, Bitola (Zdravkovski 2003, 192); 3. ‘Grgur Tumba’ - Bitola (Mikulčić 1984, 19); 4, 5. Porodin, Bitola (Grbić at al. 1960, T.VIII: 5, 4); 6. Slavej, Prilep (Temelkoski Mitkoski 2005, 51 - T.IV: 3); 7. Topolčani, Prilep (Temelkoski - Mitkoski 2005, 51 - T.IV: 5); 8. Velušina, Bitola (Zdravkovski 2003, 191 - wrong location), graphic reconstruction: Čausidis 2007, T.III: 6; 9. Dobromiri, Bitola (Zdravkovski 2003, 191), graphic reconstruction: Čausidis 2007, T.III: 7.


Nikos Čausidis: Neolithic Ceramic Figurines in the Shape of a Woman – House from the Republic of Macedonia

Fig. 5: Neolithic ceramic figurines of ‘Woman – House’ type. Republic of Macedonia: 1, 2. Topolčani, Prilep (Temelkoski-Mitkoski 2005, 51- T.IV: 7, 4); 3. Madžari, Skopje (Kolištrkoska Nasteva 2005, 55 - kat. br. 39); 4. Mogila, Bitola (Kolištrkoska Nasteva 2005, 63 kat. br. 47); 5. Živojno, Bitola (Simoska - Sanev 1976, sl. 116); 6. Porodin, Bitola (Simoska Sanev 1976, sl. 91); 7. Suvodol, Bitola (Kolištrkoska Nasteva 2005, 61 kat. br. 45); 8. Slavej, Prilep (Kitanoski 1989, 48– sl. 4).

Fig. 7: Neolithic ceramic figurines of the ‘Woman – House’ type. Republic of Macedonia: 1. Dolno Palčište, Tetovo (Zdravkovski 2003, 105 - sl. 86); 2. Porodin, Bitola (Simoska - Sanev 1976, sl. 83); 3. Amzabegovo, Sveti Nikole (Garašanin 1982, 9 – sl. 4); 4. Mrševci, Skopje (Sanev 2006, 189 - Fig. 32); 5. Damjan, Radoviš (Zdravkovski 2008, 199); 6. Mrševci, Skopje (Sanev 1989, 42 – Fig. 4); 7, 8, 9. Gorobinci, Sveti Nikole (Sanev 1975, T.XIV: 4, 3, 5). 10. Madžari, Skopje (Čausidis 1995, 15); 11. Govrlevo, Skopje (Čausidis 1995, 33).

Fig. 6: Neolithic ceramic figurines of ‘Woman – House’ type. Republic of Macedonia: 1, 2. Madžari, Skopje (Zdravkovski 2003, 71 - sl. 45, 156); 3. Slavej, Prilep (Temelkoski - Mitkoski 2005, 51 - T.IV: 1); 4. Madžari, Skopje (Sanev 2006, 185 - Fig. 26); 5. „Tumba Čair’ – Skopje (Sanev 2006, 186 - Fig. 29); 6. Stenče, Tetovo (Zdravkovski 2008, 221); 7. Madžari, Skopje (Zdravkovski 2008, 185); 8. Madžari, Skopje (Kolištrkoska Nasteva 2005, 60 kat. br. 44).


Anthropomorphic and Zoomorphic Miniature Figures in Eurasia, Africa and Meso-America Morphology, Materiality, Technology, Function, and Context

Fig. 8: The textile motive, 19 - 20 cent.: 1. Region in the vicinity of St. Petersburg, Russia (Dinces 1951, 489. Ris. 267); 2, 3. Russia (Rybakov 1981, 491, 515); 4. Croatia (Radauš-Ribarić at al. 1978, 102). Relief motifs on pottery, Neolithic: 5. Sarvaš, Osijek, Croatia (Gimbutas 1974, 176 - Fig. 128); 6. Sarvaš, Osijek, Croatia (Dimitrijević 1974, T.IV: 9); 9. Donja Branjevina, Deronje, Vojvodina (Karmanski 2005, Pl.V: 1). 7. Moitive from pearl (steatite), Early Minoic period, Kasteli Pedeada, Crete (Gimbutas 1974, 182 Fig.140); 8. Rock art, Bronze Age, Čalmy Varre, Kola Peninsula (Rybakov, 1981, 477). Relief motifs from stone funerary monuments, Late Midle Age: 10. Cista, Sinj, Dalmatia (Bešlagić 1978, sl.66); 11. Donje Bare, Blidinje, Hercegovina (Wenzel 1965, T.XLIII: 16); 12. Ravno, Kupres, Bosnia (Wenzel 1965, T.XLIII: 14).

Fig. 9: 1, 2. Motives on rugs, 19-20 cent., Anatolia (Valcarenghi 1994, 196: 135, 174: 115); 3,4. Belt plates, Early Middle Age, Skalistoe, Krym (Ajbabin 1982, 169 - Ris. 2: 7,13); 5. The textile motive, 19-20 cent., North Russia (Dinces 1947, 83 - Ris. 14); 6. Metal belt application, 9 cent., Blatnica, Czech Republic (Profantova 2004, 296 Obr.3: 3); 7. Clay cult vessel, Neolithic, Radačje, Niš, Serbia (Gimbutas 2001, 38 - Fig. 62); 8. Ceramic cult object (vessel), Neolithic, Rakitovo, Bulgaria (Radunceva et al. 2002, Obr.8). Ceramic cult objects ( ‘Woman-House’ type), Neolithic, Republic of Macedonia: 9, 10. Zelenikovo, Skopje (Garašanin 1979, T.XXXVII: 7, 8); 11. Madžari, Skopje (Zdravkovski 2008, 223); 12, 13. Damjan, Radoviš, unpublished (temporary exibition at the Museum of Macedonia Skopje).


Nikos Čausidis: Neolithic Ceramic Figurines in the Shape of a Woman – House from the Republic of Macedonia

Fig. 10: Ceramic cult objects, Neolithic: 1. Vădastra, Romania (Müller-Karpe 1968, Taf. 179: B-1); 2. Truşeşti, Romania (MüllerKarpe 1968, Taf. 173: A-1); 3. Fragment, Dunavec, Albania (Korkuti 1995, Taf.41: 10); 4. Fragment, Donja Branjevina, Deronje, Vojvodina (Karmanski 2005, Pl.XXX: 3); 5. Hodmezevasharhej - Kekenjdomb, Hungaria (Titov 1980, 363 – Ris. 220); 6. Butmir, Bosnia (Hoernes 1925, 281); 7 - 10. Urns, Azor, Israel (Müller-Karpe 1968, Taf. 107: D1, Taf. 108:10, 12, 13).

Fig. 11: 1a, 1b. Painted wood, ‘Vierge Ouvrante’, 15 cent., France (Neumann 1963, Pl.176, Pl.177); 2. Image of Madonna, Piero della Francesca, 15 cent., Italy; 3. Reconstruction of the building interior, Neolithic, Çatal Höyük, Turkey (Mellart 1967, 125 - Fig. 38); 4. Medieval manuscript, Italy (Neumann 1963, Pl. 174); 5. Miniature ceramic model of oven, Neolithic, Progar, Serbia (Petrović 2001, 12 Sl.1), graphic reconstruction: Čausidis et al. 2008, 113 - T.IV:3; 6. Ceramic urn, Veio, Italy, Etruscan culture, 6. cent. BC. (Sokolov 1990, 130 – il.75).

Fig. 12: 1, 2, 3. Schematic outline of the possible use of Neolithic cult objects of the ‘Woman-House’ type (Čausidis 2008, 86 - T.I: 1,2,3).


Anthropomorphic and Zoomorphic Miniature Figures in Eurasia, Africa and Meso-America Morphology, Materiality, Technology, Function, and Context

The Velušina – Porodin group of the Pelagonian Plain

but is represented as schematic feminine body with emphasized breasts, head and arms.

The first group is designated the Velušina – Porodin group and corresponds to the Pelagonian Plain.

There is one example from the site of Slavej with four openings at the angles of the roof and crescent-shaped windows (Fig. 5: 8). The crescent patterns, together with the square doors, suggest ‘the open mouth and eyes’ of the house. Two other upper fragments of this piece show the hollow cylinder without any anthropomorphic elements (Fig. 4: 6; Fig. 6: 3). There are two other head cylinders from the site of Topolcani, one of which is the smallest known example from Pelagonia, at 7 cm in height (Fig. 5: 1). The second one manifests a stylised perforated ear, perhaps analogous to the piece from Optičari (Fig. 4: 7 compare with 2), which probably was used for hanging an earring. Cylinder fragments are recorded in the area of Gjumušica within the city of Prilep (Temelkoski and Mitkoski 2005; Kitanoski 1989).

The Porodin pieces stand out due to the relatively realistic representation of the house with gabled roof. From the roof of the house emerges a human head with a prominent nose and accentuated neck, which may be decorated with different types of ornaments (Fig. 2: E; Fig. 3: 1, 3, 4, 6-9; Fig. 4: 4, 5). This site has produced a few almost complete pieces and other more fragmented examples of which most are anthropomorphic cylinders (Grbić at al. 1960; Simoska and Sanev 1976, 33-35). The artistic and stylistic features of the face are severe and dignified, which is specific to deified characters (Fig. 3: 1). There is also at this time one decapitated piece showing shoulders on the roof (Fig. 5: 6) and an atypical variant for Pelagonia with a feminine bust and completely modelled hands. Based on comparisons with pieces from the Skopje Plain, it is possible that the hands of the latter piece were positioned on the abdomen of the figure or on the roof of the house (Fig. 7: 2 compare with 4, 10, 11 and Fig. 6: 7).

The Amzabegovo-Vršnik group of the Skopje, Polog and Ovče Pole regions Excavations conducted over the last thirty years produced the second group of figurines from sites located in the plains of the Skopje, Polog and Ovče Pole regions. These sites belong to so-called Amzabegovo – Vrsnik cultural group.

Examples of heads similar to the above and pertaining to anthropomorphic cylinders were found in the vicinity of Porodin, at the site known as Velušina (Simoska and Sanev 1975; Simoska and Sanev 1976, 31-33). Although the head representations (Fig. 3: 2, 5) are similar, the lower cubic portion varies in this region. One showing a vaulted roof and openings in the shape of the letter ‘M’ was found at this site. A photomontage of this cubic portion and the upper cylinder of a piece from Optičari is shown in Figure 4 (8, 2). One of the Optičari pieces shows a necklace made of round pearls and earrings (Fig. 4: 1, 2) (Simoska and Sanev 1976, 40; Simoska and Kuzman 1990). Typologically similar pieces come from the sites of Grgur Tumba located in the city of Bitola and Dobromiri (Simoska and Sanev 1976, 40, 41). The second piece depicts a house with a semi-spherical roof and unusual semi-circular openings. Photomontages of these pieces are shown in Figure 4 (3, 9). The fragment from the Mogila site, which is similar to those previously mentioned, clearly shows the hollow cylinder (Fig. 5: 4) (Kolištrkoska Nasteva 2005, 63). A fragment from Živojno (Simoska and Sanev 1976, 37, 38), a site located next to the southern border of the Republic of Macedonia, is an indication of the presence of such objects in the south part of the Pelagonian Plain, today part of Greece. In this case the opening below the mouth of the represented character is worth mentioning (Fig. 5: 5).

The Skopje Plain figurines The majority of these figurines were found at the Madžari site (Sanev 2006; Zdravkovski 2008; Kolištrkoska Nasteva 2005). One is a completely preserved figurine with several layers of slip. It represents the most distinctive type with an anthropomorphic cylinder modelled as a female bust with hands adorned with bracelets and protectively placed on the roof of the house (Fig. 7: 10; Fig. 2: C). A unique piece shows the schematised hands of the feminine figure resting on her abdomen rather than on the roof (Fig. 6: 7; Fig. 2: B). Another red-polished piece with broken hands also is noteworthy (Fig. 5: 3). At this site, as well as across the Skopje Plain, there are also variants whose cylinders represent only a head. As we have seen, they were typical in Pelagonia (Fig. 6: 1, 2, 8; Fig. 2: D). The figurines from this site, as well as those across the Skopje Plain, show a detailed modelling of different hairstyles. Beside the wavy hair shown on the back of the head (Fig. 6: 1, 2, 4), one figurine has forehead curls painted in red (Fig. 6: 1). Numerous pieces from this site and the surrounding region, as well from the Polog Plain, have accentuated eyes (Fig. 5: 3; Fig. 6: 4). Despite the variability of the cubic portion, as typical in Pelagonia, the characteristically huge cubic sections seen in the Skopje region are barely identifiable as a house (Fig. 6: 5, 8; Fig. 7: 4, 10, 11) and often are perforated with quadrangular, oval and other more complexly shaped openings, with the oval shaped ones tending to group in pairs (Fig. 6: 8; Fig. 7: 10). Most examples have round openings (c. 1cm diameter) at the roof angle (Fig. 6: 8; Fig. 7: 10, 11). Recently one cubic portion, unfortunately without a cylinder,

Exceptionally important for the typology of these objects is the completely preserved figurine from Suvodol, in which the house is a stylised cube (Fig. 5: 7). The incised triangle (as a symbol of feminine genitalia) and the windows in the shape of eyes should be noted. Rows of semi-round bulging applications radiating across the roof show a clear relation to the examples from Porodin and Optičari (compare Fig. 5: 7 with Fig. 3: 8, 9; Fig. 4: 4, 5, 8, 9). The anthropomorphic cylinder of this piece is not in the shape of a head and neck


Nikos Čausidis: Neolithic Ceramic Figurines in the Shape of a Woman – House from the Republic of Macedonia section were found (Fig. 7: 7, 8, 9) (Sanev 1975, 220, 221). From the site of Damjan (the vicinity of Radoviš) there is a fragment with the representation of hand, similar to the previous one (Fig. 7: 5), which was incorrectly joined with another fragment during the restoration process. Two more completely preserved cubic portions, belonging to the type with two perforations lacking the upper cylinder, were also found on this site (Fig. 9: 12, 13; Fig. 2: H) (Sanev 2006, 181, 182; Zdravkovski 2008, 198, 199).

was found in Madžari and is made of coarse terracotta (Fig. 9: 11). In the last few years a number of small and large fragments of this type were found at the site of Govrlevo. In the most luxurious example, the feminine figurine decorated with a necklace, bracelets and a belt of round pearls (Fig. 7: 11 compare with Fig. 4: 2) is depicted in the state of pregnancy (Georgiev and Bilbija 1984; Bilbija 1986; Zdravkovski 2008, 194, 195). Other findings from this site (mostly fragments) are not yet published.

Typology and transformations

Two typical examples from Mrševci show the hands of the figure placed on the roof of the house. One is similar to the smallest example from Skopje Plain and has a height of 15 cm and lacks openings in the cubic portion (Fig. 7: 4, 6) (Sanev 1989; Sanev 2006). A specimen from Tumba Čair, now the Skopje urban area, shows a cylinder with the representation of head which shows similarities with pieces from Madžari and with the Pelagonian group (Fig. 6: 5; Fig. 2: D compare with Figs. 3-5). The cubic portion has an opening with a cogged arch (Sanev 2006).

Our research indicates that these figurines are not found outside the Republic of Macedonia, with the exception of the border areas, especially the Greek part of Pelagonia and southern Serbia and Kosovo, where such figurines are expected to be found. So far the following specimens are atypical of the observed geographic distribution: a) the Donja Branjevina piece (Vojvodina, Serbia) (Karmanski 2005) which could belong to the hand of a figure resting on the cubic portion (Fig. 10: 4; Fig. 2: C); and b) the Dunavec example (Albania) (Korkuti 1995), which could belong to the top of the anthropomorphic cylinder (Fig. 10: 3) or to the upper part of an anthropomorphic vessel (Naumov 2008, Fig. 9: 1-3).

At the site of Zelenikovo, a variant piece shows the cubic portion as a vessel rather than a house. It walls are covered with incised patterns (Fig. 9: 9, 10; Fig. 2: I) and it dates to the Late Neolithic (Garašanin 1979), clearly showing similarities with the examples from Bulgaria, Serbia and Bosnia (compare with Fig. 9: 7, 8; Fig. 10: 6) (Čausidis 2007, 55, 56; Naumov 2008).

The large collection of figurines now facilitates the application of a typological scheme (see former attempts by Čausidis 2007; and Sanev 2006). Unfortunately, this scheme can not be chronologically precisely dated (Fig. 2: A-I). Recent work on this problem applies the principle that the simpler the geometrical form, the older the objects (Fig. 2: G), with the anthropomorphic or complex ones as younger in age (Zdravkovski 2006, 58, 60). Following this guiding principle, the typological and chronological line would be as follows: H–G–D–A–B-C, in Figure 2. But theoretically, the time line could be reversed, where the anthropomorphic examples would be primal, while the geometric ones would be the product of their secondary reduction: C-B-A-D-G-H, in Figure 2. The same question may be asked of the lower portion-- were the realistic features of the house primary (FE-D-A in Fig. 2), or were they a result of this process (A-DE-F in Fig. 2)? If we start from the concept that universal or omnipresent types are of crucial significance, the earliest examples would have the shape of the house– the cubic portion with modeled anthropomorphic head/schematic body cylinder (Fig. 2: A; Fig. 5: 7). From this point on, the following tendencies may be noted:

The Polog Plain figurines Although the Polog Plain is a geographically different region, the figurines show similarities with those from Skopje and the Pelagonia Plain. In Dolno Palčiste, a fragment of an anthropomorphic cylinder, very similar to those from Skopje Plain, is known (Fig. 7: 1). The recently excavated site of Stenče also contains several fragments and one complete object, which shows parallels with some examples from the Pelagonian Plain (Fig. 6: 6; Fig. 2: G) (Zdravkovski 2005; Zdravkovski and Saržoski 1989). Above all, the cylinder without any anthropomorphic features is analogous to the piece from Topolčani (compare with Fig. 6: 3), with openings in the cubic portion modelled in the shape of the letter ‘M’ are identical with those of the more realistic house from Velušina (compare with Fig. 4: 8). On another fragmented cubic portion, the openings are modelled in the shape of eyes, which also shows relations with Pelagonian examples, in this case, with figurines from Suvodol and Slavej (Fig. 5: 7, 8).

- The accentuation of the realistic house features (South Pelagonia) (Fig. 2: A-D-E-F; Fig. 3: 8, 9; Fig. 4: 8, 9). - The accentuated anthropomorphism of the feminine figure (Skopje and Polog Plain) (Fig. 2: A-B-C; Fig. 6: 7; Fig. 7: 2, 4, 6, 10, 11). - The transformation of the cubic portion– the house supplemented with the neck and head, into the closed cube– vessel (Zelenikovo) (Fig. 2: A-D-I; Fig. 9: 9, 10). - The reduction of the anthropomorphic part into a cylinder without any additions (Stence, Slavej) (Fig. 2: A-D-G; Fig. 6: 3, 6).

The figurines of the eastern Republic of Macedonia Specimens that may be called ‘Woman–house’ figurines also are found in the eastern part of the Republic of Macedonia. The small number and the degree of fragmentation of these finds lead us to group them into a provisional category, which belongs to the Amzabegovo–Vršnik cultural group. One questionable fragment from Amzabegovo probably belongs to the hand of the figurine placed on the roof (Fig. 7: 3; Fig. 2: C) or even could be part of an anthropomorphic vessel (Sanev 2006; Naumov 2008). In Gorobinci, the bottom of the cubic portion, a palm and the upper part of the cylinder


Anthropomorphic and Zoomorphic Miniature Figures in Eurasia, Africa and Meso-America Morphology, Materiality, Technology, Function, and Context Finally, we would like to mention the parallel with the Etruscan urns in the shape of houses, especially those pieces where, as is the case with our examples, the head of a woman probably represents a feminine mythical character (Fig. 11: 6).

- The total elimination of the cylinder and further schematization of the cubic portion (Damjan) (Fig. 2: A-D-GH; Fig. 9: 12, 13). This preliminary scheme is merely a suggestion which should be verified in the future.

Semiotic considerations

Iconographic analogies

The uterus represents the first-prenatal spatial experience of human beings. Even after birth, humans experience the house as a womb in which they are enclosed, protected, warm, nourished and safe. The house, in the same way as the mother, protects them from the unpleasant and uncomprehending outer world. The house becomes a model for understanding the universe. Then, if the hollow cube portions of the figurines in the present study symbolise the body-- the uterus, the womb, then the head in their upper section would represent the personality of this feminine being.. The house is actually her ‘foothill’, a space gathered by her legs spread in a birth-giving position. This space contains the house, and in it, life is born and continues (Čausidis 2007, 51-53; Čausidis 1996; Čausidis 1994, 205217).

The closest analogies for these figurines would be the anthropomorphic vessels that were well established in this period in the surrounding regions. In our sample the image of woman-vessel is transformed into a woman-vessel–house (Naumov 2006, 66-68; Naumov 2008, 95, 96). A similar concept of anthropomorphic transformation may be noticed on the miniature ceramic models of ovens from Serbia (Fig. 11: 5) (Čausidis et al. 2008; Petrović 2001). Setting aside the morphology of these figurines, iconographic and symbolic parallels can be found in the wider surroundings of the Republic of Macedonia. Here we consider the Neolithic ceramic finds from Vadastra and Truşeşti in Romania which represent a pair of figurines, related to houses or some kind of cubes (Fig. 10: 1, 2). In addition, the heads of the second example in Figure 10:2 are modeled as recipients, resembling those from Macedonia. Close parallels of this type can be found in Bulgaria and Hungary (Fig. 10: 5) and even in the Near East, where the Neolithic urns from Azor (Israel) show tendencies not only towards zoomorphic transformation, but also to certain anthropomorphic transformations of the house due to the breasts and faces represented on its ridge (Fig. 10: 7-10) (Müller-Karpe 1968; Čausidis 2007, 53-59).

The products of this archetypical and symbolic relation are even today present in archaic traditions which could be traced to ancient cultures, medieval pagan traditions and the folklore of contemporary European populations. In this sense, we would like to emphasize the line of Athena–Hestia/Vesta– Kybela–Sofia–the Virgin Mary, which were indicated as city patrons and thus perceived as a higher form of living space (not considering house and village, but rather the city and state. In addition the virginity of these goddesses guarantees the ‘impenetrability’ of the city, i.e., its safety from enemy attacks. They are incorporated even in Christianity, in metaphores regarding the church as the Virgin who accepts and cares for the believers within herself. At the level of imagery, this concept results in artistic solutions similar to the Neolithic figurines (Fig. 11: 1a, 1b, 2, 4) (Čausidis 2007; Averincev 1972).

Surprising parallels in the relation of woman to house can be found in the folk embroidery of Eastern Europe, dated to 19th–20th centuries. The pattern representing a woman with open legs gives form to the profile of a house with a gabled roof (Fig. 8: 2, 3). Between her legs, or inside the house, a growing plant is represented. There is a variant in which the house is not the object of anthropomorphic transformation, but rather a church with raised hands and a head equal to the dome (Fig. 8: 1; see similar variant Fig. 9: 5). Although not that obvious, this scheme is found on the traditional textile designs from the Balkans and Asia Minor (Fig. 8: 4; Fig. 9: 1, 2). Some associations with Medieval jewellery (Fig. 9: 3, 4, 6) and funerary monuments also are found (Fig. 8: 10, 11, 12) (Čausidis 2007, 51-53).

Based on the symbolic and iconographic analysis, we propose the Neolithic finds from Macedonia as cult objects of the ‘Woman–house’ type. We consider that they represent deified and personalized houses which symbolize several typical categories and functions (the power to give birth, to produce, to protect, to feed-- i.e., the maintenance of life; to gather and organize people, to operate community and probably to reproduce and resurrect the deceased) (Čausidis 2007).

Going back to the Neolithic, we observe a similar composition on the ceramic relief from Donja Branjevina (Serbia), which represents a woman with the lower part modelled in the shape of quadrangle (Fig. 8: 9) (Karmanski 2005). The presence of the vulva clearly indicates the spread legs whose shape also suggests some kind of skirt or the vertical section of the schematic house (compare Fig. 8: 9 with 5-8) (Čausidis 2007, 53, 55). In light of these similarities, the relief images from Çatal Höyük must be considered, where on some variants the birth-giving woman is represented in the upper zones (roof) of the buildings (Fig. 11: 3).

Cultic use All of the examples bear a superior central opening which communicates with the interior of the cube portion through the hollow cylinder (Fig. 12). On some of the figurines described above, the four roof corners of the house show a circular hole with a diameter of c. 1cm (Fig. 5: 8; Fig. 6: 6, 8; Fig. 7: 10, 11; Fig. 9: 11). It has been assumed that these four openings could be used for inserting ropes in order to hang these objects from the roof (Sanev 2006, 189). It is, however,


Nikos Čausidis: Neolithic Ceramic Figurines in the Shape of a Woman – House from the Republic of Macedonia equally possible that these openings held cultic meanings and functions, for example, the ritual introduction of certain elements into the cube or house, such as water, various other kinds of liquid food (milk, cooking oil), processed or granulated foods (wheat, flour, bread crumbs), vegetation (leafs, flowers, branches) and animal elements (wool, hair, feathers) or elements which can burn or smoke (candles, pitch, embers).

certain prophylactic elements (especially at the four corners) could lead to a magical effect, i.e., house protection from various negative aspects. Parallels may be found in Slavic and Balkan folklore, such as in the ritual breads (round breads, somewhere even named as ‘house’), made for Christmas or for the saint-patron holiday of a certain house or family. Their surface often contains artistic motifs made of dough that schematically code certain categories of house fulfilment (‘full barns’, ‘multiplication of the cattle in the stables’, ‘house filled with children’). Some distant ethnographic examples suggest the possibility that the Neolithic figurines also could serve for symbolic sheltering and treating of the souls of the deceased tenants who lived in the house where this figurine was placed (Čausidis 2008, 83, 84; Čausidis 2007; Čausidis 1996; Čausidis 1994, 205-217).

This proposal finds support in rituals registered in Slavic and Balkan folklore, as well as within the ethnographic traditions of other distant global regions such as activities conducted during special occasions (moving into a house, bringing the bride into the house, New Year's and other festivities). Namely, in the four corners of the house or on the roof, as well as at the center of the house (most often represented by hearth), various goods are placed. All had similar purpose, to provide happiness, welfare and protection in the future (Tolstoj 2000). Especially important are the traces of such rituals, referred to as ‘donating to the corners and the center’ recorded during the excavation of the Neolithic houses (Hodder 1990, 85). Semiotic analyses indicate that through these activities the four angles of the house were symbolically coding its total area (Čausidis 2008).

Based on the present research we summarize the aspects of the cultic usage of the Neolithic objects from the Republic of Macedonia. Regarding the analysis of these objects, the general symbolic meaning of some house elements and comparative material, we propose several hypotheses regarding their cultic use: - As objects used for burning and lighting (icon lamp, incense), which could suggest the following symbolic relations: fire/light within the house– is equal to- life within the house/living house; smoke coming from the house– is equal to- life within the house/living house (Fig. 12: 2).

Quite often, the aforementioned rituals were finalized with an offering to the fireplace which codes the central part or center of the house. With regard to the Neolithic objects, this point is coincidental with the central hole made on the peak of the anthropomorphic cylinders. Regarding the funnel shape and traces of burning, it can be assumed that some kind of liquid was poured into this hole in the cube, or smoke emerged from it (Fig. 12: 1, 2) (Čausidis 2008). Beside this function and shape, the cylinders rising from the cube should not be considered chimneys (Sanev 1988, 18; Zdravkovski 2006, 60; Vasileva 2005, 24, 37), due to the fact that the chimney as an architectonic element appeared in later epochs. Therefore, the cylinders in this case are designed as symbolic and iconographic components in order to add an anthropomorphic character and to divinise the house. On some figurines, this central hole in the cylinder has an equivalent larger central hole cut into the base of the cube (Kolištrkoska Nasteva 2005, 61; Temelkoski and Mitkoski 2005, 53, 55). Previously we assumed that this perforation served for pouring out the elements that were ritually inserted into the cube (Kolištrkoska Nasteva 2005, 10; Zdravkovski 2006, 54), which doesn't exclude the possibility that, through these holes, periodically certain elements (candle, icon lamp, planted plant) were poured out or put in the cube, so that the cultic objects would simply cover them (Fig. 12) (Čausidis 2008, 79-83).

- As objects for libation (ritual pouring) of liquids symbolising abundance, some of them are present even today in the idioms of wealth and abundance, such as ‘milk and honey’, ‘oil and wine’. At the bottom of some specimens there is a central opening through which poured liquids might moisten the surface where the figurine was placed (Fig. 12: 1). - The concept of imitative magic which could be carried out by offering other substances, in order for the real house to be filled with food; for this purpose, miniature models of domestic animals or children made of dough or clay could be used, which suggests their birth giving and multiplying in the house (Fig. 12: 3).

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The addition of various ritual elements could be made through larger holes, made on the lateral walls of the cube. These elements could be those previously mentioned in regard to symbols of the potency and the welfare of the house, so according to the principle of homeopathic magic, the real house could also be filled with these elements or with that which was symbolized through them. Apart from the real elements, they could also be their representations (figurines of people or animals) (Fig. 12: 3). In the same vein, adding


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Neolithic Ceramic Figurines in the Shape of a Woman – House from Macedonia - Nikos Čausidis  

Objects usually called ‘altars’, some of which have been previously published, are common to the territory of the Republic of Macedonia and...

Neolithic Ceramic Figurines in the Shape of a Woman – House from Macedonia - Nikos Čausidis  

Objects usually called ‘altars’, some of which have been previously published, are common to the territory of the Republic of Macedonia and...