Statuette of a Female Offering to Ishtar


Stoneware Clay Replica of Freud's Terracotta Figurine by Martha Todd

The statuette of a female is represented as an offering to Ishtar. It originates from the Orontes valley in modern-day Syria.

Ishtar was the region’s ultimate goddess, the divine personification of the planet Venus, in charge of love, fertility, war and storms. The goddess’s origin story tells that when her lover Tammuz died, Ishtar descended to the underworld to find him.

In Babylonian scriptures, she was called the Light of the World, Leader of Hosts, Opener of the Womb, Righteous Judge, Lady of Victory and Bestower of Strength. Among more recent excavations at the ancient Syrian city of Ebla (now Tell Mardikh), figurines like this were found in the acropolis, an area sacred to Ishtar.

Like other offerings to the gods, this female figure would have been disposed of in a favissa, a pit used for the disposal of objects used in a temple. Due to the vast numbers of offerings to the gods as gifts, temple repositories often had to be cleared out and the old offerings buried in the vicinity of the god’s shrine.

Originally, this female would have been adorned: her ears are pierced for earrings and there are decorations in the socket in her forehead and her round navel.

The function of these figures is difficult to establish. It is unlikely that they were part of a cult of fertility or part of fertility rituals. Fertility figures tend to have exaggerated sexual parts, those these figures from Orontes tend to have no representation of sexual parts at all.

It is more likely that these statuettes had no real purpose other than ornamental, or perhaps as playthings. Many have been found alongside similarly modelled beds, carts and chariots. Perhaps they were early forms of children’s toys.

Length: 7 cm
Depth: 1.5 cm

Packed in a cotton gift bag

All figures are individually made and will vary slightly.

Martha Todd RCA MA is an artist working from her studio in North London. Her work is often conceptual and normally involves sculpting figurative forms, both human and animal. She makes work for exhibitions and on commission.

Read more about our partnership with Martha here. 

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