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Stone ‘Baba' (Woman)

Krasnodar Region

11th-12th centuries

Limestone

H 165 cm

Anthropomorphic stelae, known as ‘stone babas' in Russian, provide us with very important information about the appearance and clothing of the nomads of the south Russian steppes. This is a canonical work – a frontal representation of the body with a traditional attribute, a goblet, in the hands, with detailed indication of rich clothing and ornaments. Such curious monuments were set up on a natural mound or the top of a barrow and dedicated to ancestor-heroes. Various ritual feasts took place near them.

This stele depicts a richly dressed woman of the local aristocracy. Her costume consists of a headdress, trousers and a long kaftan embroidered on the sleeves and along the hem. The feet are shod in low boots. Around the neck are two torques, one twisted and one smoothly wrought, also a necklace with diamond-shaped and trapezoidal pendants, and a square medallion on a long chain. The round face with high cheek-bones and small eyes set close together is carefully modelled. Characteristic of the anthropomorphic stelae of this type is a static pose with the hands resting in the lap, folded over a vessel which probably had some ritual function.

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