The alteration in the shape of the Mother Goddess figurines in Mesopotamia since the 4th millennium BC and its interpretation

Thuraya al-Hashim – King Faisal University

Mother goddess is one of the oldest beliefs in the ancient world. The pregnancy and giving birth gave a special holiness for the motherhood because they are related to the creating of the life. The scene of the giving birth guided the humans in the ancient world to believe that the female is the one who gives the life which created the mother goddess cult. As a result of that, mother goddess figurines in Mesopotamia shaped the scenes of pregnancy and giving birth since the 7th Millennium, but since the 4th millennium a new shape of mother goddess figurines appeared in south Mesopotamia during the Ubaid period. This new shape presented a graceful woman hold a baby to her breast. This changein the shape of the figurines creates an important question about the reason for this change and the meaning that it presented.

Dr Z. Bharani believes that this change presented a new feminine ideal. In her opinion, the youthful and slim nursing figures presents an ideal youthful beauty that concerned with the image of woman in general, not as mother as a reproductive agent, but one who is an object of male sexual desire and pleasure.

This paper aims to give an interpretation for the alteration of the mother goddess figurines and discuss the opinion of Dr Bahrani. The interpretation that is presented in this paper is supported by the image of the motherhood in the Mesopotamian literary and legal texts.