Minoan Snake Goddess 16th Century Replica Cretan Healer Priestess Statue 7.9″
Minoan Snake Goddess 16th Century Replica Cretan Healer Priestess Statue 7.9″ 20 cm
Height : 7.9 inches (20 cm)
Width: 4.5 inches (11.4 cm)
Weight: 0.72 lbs (330 cm)
New In Box
Holding her legendary sacred snakes, this revered goddess has been credited as healer, messenger and priestess of retribution. An exact replica of the historic statue unearthed in Knossos, Crete at the turn of the last century, our museum-quality designer resin work is hand-painted with an ancient patina that echoes the distinctive ceramic original.
“Snake goddess” is the name commonly given to a type of figurine depicting a woman holding a snake in each hand, as were found in Minoan archaeological sites in Crete. The first two of such figurines (both incomplete) were found by the British archaeologist Arthur Evans and date to the neo-palatial period of Minoan civilization, ca. 1700–1450 BCE. It was Evans who called the largest of his pair of figurines a “Snake Goddess”, the smaller a “Snake Priestess”; since then, it has been debated whether Evans was right, or whether both figurines depict priestesses, or both depict the same deity or distinct deities.
The figurines were found only in house sanctuaries, where the figurine appears as “the goddess of the household”, and they are probably (according to Burkert) related with the Paleolithic tradition regarding women and domesticity. The figurines have also been interpreted as showing a mistress of an animals-type goddess and as a precursor to Athena Parthenos, who is also associated with snakes.
The first two Snake Goddess figurines to be discovered were found by Arthur Evans in 1903, in the temple repositories of Knossos. The figurines are made of faience, a technique for glazing earthenware and other ceramic vessels by using a quartz paste. This material symbolized in old Egypt the renewal of life, therefore it was used in the funeral cult and in the sanctuaries. After firing this produces bright colors and a lustrous sheen.
These two figurines are today exhibited at the Heraklion Archeological Museum in Crete. It is possible that they illustrate the fashion of dress of Minoan women: a tight bodice which left the breasts bare, a long flounced skirt, and an apron made of material with embroidered or woven decoration. The largest of these figures has snakes crawling over her arms up to her tiara. The smaller figure holds two snakes in her raised hands, which seems to be the imitation of a panther. These were usually symbols of an earth goddess.
In particular, one of the snake goddesses was found in a few scattered pieces, and was later filled with a solution of paraffin to preserve it from further damage. The goddess is depicted just as in other statues (crown on head, hands grasping snakes and so on) The expression on her face is described as lifelike, and is also wearing the typical Minoan dress. Another figure found in Berlin, made of bronze, looks more like a snake charmer with the snakes on top of her head. Many Minoan statues and statuettes seem to express a pride.
Clay sculptures with raised hands and curling snakes were found in the “House of the double axes” in Knossos, in Asine, in Gournia, and in Myrtos. Objects with snakes curling up the sides of clay tubes were also found in Cyprus and Palestine.
Objects from the temple Repositories (Knossos) after its discovery in 1903
The snake goddess’s Minoan name may be related with A-sa-sa-ra, a possible interpretation of inscriptions found in Linear A text. Although Linear A is not yet deciphered, Palmer relates tentatively the inscription a-sa-sa-ra-me which seems to have accompanied goddesses, with the Hittite išhaššara, which means “mistress”.
The serpent is often symbolically associated with the renewal of life because it sheds its skin periodically. A similar belief existed in the ancient Mesopotamians and Semites, and appears also in Hindu mythology. The Pelasgian myth of creation refers to snakes as the reborn dead. However, Nilsson noticed that in the Minoan religion the snake was the protector of the house, as it later appears also in Greek religion. Among the Greek Dionysiac cult it signified wisdom and was the symbol of fertility.
A woman (probably a goddess) holding snakes in both hands, from Gotland, Sweden
Barry Powell suggested that the snake goddess reduced in legend into a folklore heroine was Ariadne (utterly pure or the very holy one), who is often depicted surrounded by Maenads and satyrs. Some scholars relate the snake goddess with the Phoenician Astarte (virgin daughter). She was the goddess of fertility and sexuality and her worship was connected with an orgiastic cult. Her temples were decorated with serpentine motifs. In a related Greek myth Europa, who is sometimes identified with Astarte in ancient sources, was a Phoenician princess who Zeus abducted and carried to Crete. Evans tentatively linked the snake goddess with the Egyptian snake goddess Wadjet but did not pursue this connection. Statuettes similar to the “snake goddess” identified as priest of Wadjud and magician were found in Egypt.
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