Depictions on small, "portable" objects, make the integral part of the Palaeolithic art.
(l'art mobilier, portable art).
There are three types of objects:
1) statuettes or other three-dimensional objects cut
out from soft stone or other materials (antler, mammoth's tusk),
2) flat objects with engravings and paintings and
3) small reliefs in caves, grottoes and under natural roofs.
One of the first finds on this kind was a reindeer foot-bone
from the le Chaffaud grotto with a depiction of two hinds.
Everyone knows Prosper Merimee, the famous French writer and
the author of the fascinating novel "The Chronicle of Karl
IX' s reign", "Carmen" and other romantic short stories but
only few of us know that he served as an Inspector General
of Historical Monuments. It was he, who passed that bone into
the newly organized in the center of Paris the historical
museum Clouny in 1833. Now the bone is in the Museum of National
Antiquities Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Later the cultural layer
of the Upper Palaeolithic Period was discovered in the le
Chaffaud grotto. But then nobody could believe that art being
older then the ancient Egyptian one, as it also was with the
Altamira paintings and other
fine art Palaeolithic monuments . So, those engravings were
interpreted as samples of Celtic art (V-IV cc. BC). Only at
the end of the XIX c., after they had been found in the Palaeolithic
cultural layer, they were recognized, together with the paintings,
the most ancient.
Women's statuettes, found now and then during excavations
of Upper Palaeolithic settlements, attract the closest attention
of specialists. At present, more than some dozens of statuettes
of this type are known only on the territory of Russia. Together
with those, found in Europe, there are more than two hundreds
of them. The majority of the figurines are not large: from
4 up to 17 cm. The most characteristic feature is their exaggerated
"corpulence", they show women with portly figures. "Venus"
from Willendorf and statuettes
from Kostienki are the typical ones.
At the same time there are quite realistic three-dimensional
representations. These are, for example, the widely known
head, called in France "the lady in a hood", from Brassempouy.
And another statuette, found here, but, unfortunately, broken,
shows almost the classical proportions of a woman' s figure.
Some statuettes from Czechia are made from burnt clay, for
example, from Dolni Vestonice
site. Still recently they were unique, but not long ago a
statuette from burnt clay was found in Siberia, in the Upper
Yenisei, at the Maina site. Also
in Siberia, in Pribaikalje, a series of peculiar statuettes
of another stylistic appearance, was found. Together with
the similar, as in Europe, portly figurines of naked women
there are statuettes of well-shaped, stretched proportions.
Unlike the European ones they are dressed into blank, probably
fur overalls. These are finds from sites Bouret' and Malta.
Almost all the specialists, studied the Palaeolithic women's
statuettes, differing in details, interpret them as cultic
subjects, amulets, idols etc, reflecting the idea of maternity
and fertility. H.Breuil,
H.Osborn, P.P.Efimenko and many others wrote about it. Some
variants of this idea, having finished a full "cycle", start
a new turn. For example, R.McDermot, who is probably not acquainted
with Efimenko's books, published in Russian, interprets the
statuettes with exaggeratively large abdomens as representations
of pregnant women, although Efimenko had written about it
as long before as in 1935.