Basalt Figure of a Woman Giving Birth
Size: 35.5 cm. (14 in.)
Catalogue: Costarican Art
Dated (500-1000 AD)
Female stone figures were produced in fairly large quantities, though not many have survived and fewer still are as remarkable as this superb work of art. Most of the sculptures are either shamanic in origin or created as fertility figures, designed to promote fecundity and encourage women in the ordeals of birth and motherhood. This graphic and moving statue shows a woman giving birth by herself. Her posture indicates she has done this before and knows exactly what to do. There is enormous strength conveyed in her straight back, her face tightened in pain, her powerful arms pulling the baby out. The entire sculpture is perfectly balanced, its volume and weight distributed with extraordinary equilibrium which serves as an ideal model for women expecting a child. In her pain she is the essence of dignity and fortitude, with her hair flowing back delineated with vertical grooves, her hands carved in an almost abstract manner giving the impression they are in movement. Through exceptional skill the sculptor has brought life from stone, just as a woman brings life from her body, with great courage and determination to perform this miracle on her own, which neither pain nor fear can thwart. As such, she is an inspiration for all people, male and female alike.
Ah, I remember descriptions like this from Art History. I can already see my notes I’ve scribbled in the margin of my History book as a young student: “IMMA BIRTH THIS KID AND YOU’RE GONNA WATCH. THEN IMMA KILL A BEAR FOR BREAKFAST”
Sculptures like this make me wonder where the idea of the demure woman emerged. Prehistoric and preColombian women, you did not mess with.