Plank figures.

While they may look a bit familiar to some (hmm…), truth is we don’t really know a lot about these rare ‘Plank Figures’ found in the province of Paphos.

Traces of paint remain on these large plank figures with schematic arms. Despite the ‘arms,’ there appears to be no further indication of anatomical features, however it remains possible that the lost paintwork once depicted such details. The relief present in the second shown example may indicate clothing once portrayed.

The role of these statuettes remains puzzling to scholars today. Some suggest that they imitated xoana (wooden cult effigies) that stood in prehistoric shrines. Another line of thought is that they were associated with beliefs of fertility, and played a role in mortuary rites prior to their use of grave goods as markers of status.

Both date to the Early Cypriot III - Middle Cypriot I period (ca. 1900-1800 BCE), and are from a cemetery on a hill near the village of Kidasi. The Museum of Cycladic Art houses 7 such plank figures, the best collection of these unique artefacts in the world.

Artefacts courtesy of & currently located at the Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens, Greece, Z 576 & Z 726. The artefact descriptions provided by the museum were of great use to me when writing up this post. Photos taken by Dan Diffendale: 1, 2 (cropped).

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