Ancestral Wisdom Women, Wise Mothers and Priestesses

Female figure Caribbean Plains. Zenú Culture. Early Period -200/1000

Birthing Woman

Title: Female figure
Creator: Caribbean Plains (Zenú) - Early Period
Date: -200/1000
Physical Dimensions: w201 x h251 mm
Type: Ceramic
Location: People and Gold in Pre-Hispanic Colombia
Technique: Modeling in clay
Finding: Colombia, Sucre, San Marcos
Accession number: C13108

This woman in position to give birth with extremely short hair and a rounded cut is only wearing a necklace and simple bracelets. The holes in her ears and nose suggest the use of ear and nose rings, maybe in goldwork.
Thousands of women made in clay, chubby, naked and with enhanced sexual organs, kneeling in a position as if they were giving birth and sometimes decorated with goldwork –also modelled in clay– were deposited under burial mounds in the Zenú, the region of the mid and lower valleys of the San Jorge River in the Colombian Caribbean plains. Fertility, an essential concept for this society, was probably represented in these feminine offerings, to protect and induce germination, rebirth and transformation of the dead in the underworlds of gold, in the same way as you sow and protect the seeds for the crops to germinate. JSS

Pre-Hispanic art depicting scenes related to maternity are prevalent. Women held an honorable place in their societies. Not only were they mothers, they occupied important positions such as priestesses, as well. Fertility, birth and nurturing life are qualities intrinsically associated with that, which is feminine. Thus, women and Earth are respected and revered, as their role is crucial for the survival of the species. Women seemed to have played a particularly important role in the Zenú culture. However, female representations are found in other cultures too.