PSI idol

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An anthropomorphic figurine made from light clay and decorated all over the body with fine undulating lines in brown tones. The conjoined legs are cylindrical in shape with a wide base at the feet. The body is completely flat apart from the slight suggestion of breasts. Both arms, in the form of wings, are raised. The head is also flat, with a nose rather like the beak of a bird. The figure wears a headdress in a funnel shape. This sort of figurine has been given the name Psi due to the similarity with the Greek letter.

This is a feminine idol typical of the Mycenaean culture. In this culture or period statues of a large size were not produced. Most of the sculpture consisted of figurines of baked clay, found in temples and tombs, above all in the Phylakopi site, but also in Mycenae, Tiryns and Asine. They represent anthropomorphic female figures although others have been found of male figures, some zoomorphic and above all, in a horse-form.

These female figures are found in different positions: with arms extended upward, arms folded over the hips and also seated. They are always made of terracotta and are very schematized especially in the zone of the body, which is usually a simple cylinder. The face, however, is more detailed, with big painted eyes and a pronounced nose. They are all painted, either monochrome or polychrome.

They received their names (given to them by archaeologists) from their shape and their resemblance to Greek letters, depending on the position of the arms. Some have the form of phi, others of psi, and there are even some like the letter tau. Still others are carrying a child in their arms. The most sophisticated are depicted together in a “rondo”, to dance or form a divine triad, a magic trinity.

They formed part of the popular Greek religion dedicated to the terrestrial world, peopled with telluric deities who emerged from the bowels of the earth. The significance of these pieces is not clear, but it is probable that they were votive objects, found in contexts which seemed to be places of worship.

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