Figure, Violin type, 3200-2700 BCE
Early Cycladic I, Grotta-Pelos
Greece, Cyclades Islands
8 5/8 × 3 × ¾ in. (21.9 × 7.6 × 1.9 cm)
3-D Object/Sculpture
CA 62053

Photo: Paul Hester
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This thin marble figure takes a form resembling a modern violin and is known as a violin type or schematic figure. The violin type dates to the Early Cycladic I period (3200-2700 BCE) and shows the influence of earlier Neolithic sculptural forms. While most violin types are under 20 cm tall, this slightly larger figure includes some additional features typical of future canonical styles.  

Typical violin-type attributes include the tall pillar representing the neck and faceless head; lack of distinct arms or legs; and the narrow waist indicated by wide notches on either side. Other violin-shaped figures sometimes include the incised V at the base of the neck, but the other incised detailsare more typical of other varieties. These features include the horizontal bands across the midriff, a vertical band on the back indicating a spine, and a pubic triangle placed near the hips, revealing that the figure represents a female form. An incised pubic triangle becomes a hallmark of later canonical figures, such as the Spedos variety of which there are several examples in the Menil Collection (CA 6018, CA 6019, CA 62038, and 1962-09 DJ). The figure also has square hips, rather than rounded like other violin types. A close parallel for the figure, which may even be from the same workshop, is part of the Sainsbury Collection, University of East Anglia. The Menil figure may possibly be from the island of Naxos, but it was acquired in 1962 without any specific archaeological context.