The Dolni Vestonice Collection (3 piece set plus base)
Historical Description by the Artist:
The Dolni Vestonice… “Many have been cheated by oblivion, But by good judges, None; And afterwards, I say I shall be remembered certainly by some And though dead, I shall not be forgotten.” –Sappho Our prehistoric roots are veiled in mystery. Bare bones and artifacts are the clues we use to uncover their secrets.
This investigation starts right after World War II, with the initial excavation near the present town of Brno in the land that is now known as the Czech Republic. The three pieces in this set once belonged to a woman we call “Crooked Fox,” a Shaman of the Ice Age and the earliest individual we have been able to identify from prehistoric times. She lived 27,000 years ago, in a little village of about 100-120 mammoth-hunters. The archaeological site is called Dolni Vestonice. The houses in her village were all made of mammoth bones, covered with the hides of the great beasts. A wall of such bones surrounded the village, and a little stream ran through it.
Crooked Fox lived in a little hut further uphill, where she had the earliest known pottery kiln. Here she made totemic sculptures of animals and female figurines out of clay, and baked them in her fire. Most dramatic of these is the black goddess included in this set. Approximately 4″ inches tall, it was made of clay mixed with powdered mammoth bone, then fired hard in the pit kiln. Four holes were made in the top of her head, probably intended for the insertion of hair, feathers, or even leaves or flowers. She also had bone flutes and whistles, and necklaces of carved beads and seashells. A number of ivory beads were carved in the shape of two breasts with a headless neck and enigmatic markings. These comprised a necklace of eight beads in ascending sizes, the smallest being less than half an inch wide.
In her hut were also found little portraits of her, similar to sculpted portraits from other sites, and clearly by a different sculptor, possibly a traveling portrait artist. One of these is a beautiful ivory head, showing her hair tied up in a coif. What makes these particularly interesting (and identifies the portraits as being of her) is that in each one, the left side of her face sags, as from a stroke, injury or arthritis. And this is where the “crooked” part of her name comes from.
When Crooked Fox died, her people buried her ceremoniously in the center of the village, curled into a fetal position, as was the custom. Her body had been colored with red ocher to give it a semblance of life, and she wore a necklace of beads like the ones found in the hut. In her hands they placed her totem animal, an arctic fox. An arrowhead was positioned between the fox and her forehead. Finally, the shoulder blades of a mammoth were laid over her grave. And then the people abandoned their village, never to return.
No one dared go back into her hut to claim her tools, musical instruments, jewelry, or the last firing of figurines still in her cooling kiln. All was still in place when the site was covered in 1949, including her fingerprints in the little dabs of clay she used to hold the figurines in place for the firing! And when her skull was brought out of its 27,000-year-old grave, it was found that the left side was crooked and misshapen, exactly as depicted in the portraits. And so this ancient Shaman attained an immortality that could be envied by anyone, since she left us her body, her personal effects, her art, her fingerprints, her portrait, and in fact, her identity.
Will as much of us be known to our descendants 27,000 years hence? Like Sappho, Crooked Fox speaks to us across the millennia: The three artifacts comprising this set were precisely sculpted by Oberon and Morning Glory Zell from the originals in a museum exhibit. They have been restored to the condition they were in when originally created.
Size: 5.5″ Tall