Bactrian Composite Idol, Late 3rd - Early 2nd Millennium B.C.

Price on application.

Provenance: Ex-Ishiguru collection, Japan

The state of preservation is excellent, even if the surface is partially worn. The hair is lost. The statuette is composite and two-colored: the body is of dark green chlorite (or steatite?) and the head is white (limestone).

It represents a standing woman of generous proportions. She is carved from a single small stone block, the structure of which is simple: the lower part, wide and thick, has a vaguely cylindrical shape, while the chest is rectangular and thinner. The arms are clearly carved, but the hands are not visible. The décolleté was probably decorated with recessed necklaces and/or garlands.

The head is finely modeled, with a round, chubby face (cheekbones, chin, ears) and many incised details (mouth, eyes, eyebrows). A necklace made of small circular pearls was inlaid at the base of the neck. Her garment recalls the Mesopotamian kaunakes, but the way she wears it is more complicated; the various elements are rendered by relief bands, vertical incisions and, on the chest, by fish bones.

This type of statuette refers to the category of very distinctive objects of the prehistoric civilization of Bactria. They hardly exceed 20 centimeters height and their composite nature, with the use of two or more different materials, is characteristic of the type. This example is of remarkable artistic quality, in spite of its reduced size, and belongs to the rare group of standing (and non-seated) figurines. It can be compared to a very well known statuette currently on display in the collection of the Louvre Museum.

Though there is no real evidence for the purpose and meaning of the Bactrian figurines, the fact that they were generally found in necropolis might suggest that they had a function in the funerary sphere (cult of a deity, of the deceased or of its image, a simple offering to the gods, etc.).

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