Definition of Venus de Valdivia
During the Paleolithic period different human communities made some figurines, which could be made of stone, wood or ivory. These sculptures represented naked women and in the world of archeology they are known as Venus.
In the western coast of the current territory of Ecuador, a pre-Columbian culture, the Valdivians, developed approximately 5000 years ago. They engaged in fishing, hunting and agricultural activities. This culture is known for its ceramic techniques and especially for its stone and later clay sculptures. The Venus of Valdivia is the most emblematic sculpture .
As for its sculptural characteristics, the following stand out:
1) the normally naked woman is represented in different vital stages (puberty, pregnancy or maturity),
2) the statues appear with ornaments (for example, shells used as necklaces and decorative elements on the lips),
3) most of these figurines have striking and very elaborate hairstyles (it is believed that the elevation of the hairstyle was a symbol of power),
4) the woman's arms stand out for their size and
5) the figures express the sexual dimension of women (bulky chest, wide hips and visible genitals).
Archaeologists agree that the woman of the Valdivian culture had a dominant role in society as a whole and in that sense one could speak of a matriarchal society. On the other hand, the statuettes communicate that the woman was valued because it symbolized the idea of fertility.
It should be noted that most Venus have been found in burial places and this circumstance makes the woman related to the fertility of the Earth. According to other interpretations, the Valdivian statuettes could be offerings to the gods or a talisman used by the shamans in healing rituals.
The Venus of the Paleolithic
Since the end of the 11th century, female statuettes have appeared in different territories of the planet; in France, Italy, Ukraine, Austria or Russia. The Venus of Brassempouy and that of Willendorf are the two most significant.
These prehistoric sculptures continue to arouse the interest of archaeologists, as it is impossible to determine with absolute certainty what they intended to represent. The most accepted thesis is the idea of fertility associated with women.