Venus of Laussel
The Venus of Laussel is an 18.11-inch-high (46.0-centimetre) limestone bas-relief of a nude woman. It is painted with red ochre and was carved into the limestone of a rock shelter (Abri de Laussel) in the commune of Marquay, in the Dordogne department of south-western France. The carving is associated with the Gravettian Upper Paleolithic culture (approximately 25,000 years old). It is currently displayed in the Musée d'Aquitaine in Bordeaux, France.
The figure holds a bison horn, or possibly a cornucopia, in one hand, which has thirteen notches. She has large breasts, a great stomach, and wide hips. There is a "Y" on her thigh and her faceless head is turned toward the horn. The lower relief was covered in red ochre.
Discovery and display
The relief was discovered in 1911 by Jean-Gaston Lalanne, a physician. It was carved into large block of limestone in a rock shelter (abri de Laussel) at the commune of Marquay in the Dordogne department of south-western France. The limestone block fell off the wall of the shelter. It was brought to the Musée d'Aquitaine in Bordeaux, France.
The figure and the horn are considered significant in figurative studies of Paleolithic art. There are 144 similarly formed "goddess figures" said to be used for the worship of a Great Goddess discovered across present day Europe, such as Venus of Willendorf. The color and the number of notches on the horn may symbolize the number of moons or the number of menstrual cycles in one year, or the number of days from menstruation to ovulation.
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