Selected and rare materials, excerpts and observations from ancient, medieval and contemporary authors, travelers and researchers about Cyprus.
uses Google technology and indexes only and selectively internet - libraries having books with free public access

page 106

occurs between the above-named Greek types, which I have already described, and those to which I have now to call attention as more peculiarly Cypriote. It may be that the latter class are exclusively sacerdotal representations, or that they are of greater antiquity than the former. The aspect of these "Cypriote" sculptures is very like that of the Aztecs. Its broad elements consist of unusually large and prominent eyes, which must have been very quick in moving and lustrous; the noses are uncommonly large, of an exaggerated aquiline contour, and thin in section; the low, conical foreheads slope backwards greatly, suggesting defect of mental,if not moral powers; the lips are lean, the muzzle is short, the lower jaw is narrow and pointed. In effect, it is to he noticed that of the three regions of the face, the central, or sensuous one, is out of proportion to the upper, or intellectual one, and to the energetic or physically potent one, which is the lowest of the three. Considering the size of the head as a whole in proportion to that of the body of a person of this type, it is obvious that this divergence from a fine model is due, not so much to the excess of size in the central elements of such physiognomies, as to the uncommon smallness of the upper and lower elements of the same. If such is the case, it is not difficult to recognise physical characteristics which assort well enough with what we are led to expect by the history of the Cypriote people,—a facile, voluptuous, sensuous race, submissive and light-hearted, capable of receiving impressions from all around them, but not qualified to retain, and still less likely to improve on, these foreign impressions. I presume that the statuettes I have now to describe represent members of a peculiar and, doubtless, sacerdotal class of persons, natives of Cyprus. Their external physical characteristics I have already mentioned. Their costumes are extremely like those still in vogue with the Roman Catholic hierarchy, which are admitted to be of great antiquity, and adopted of yore for sacerdotal offices. Many of these figures bear, hanging before them, the well-known stole, which is used by priests to this day, and comprising those fringed ends which are still in vogue. The surplice, which is familiar to us all, occurs in several examples. Something which strongly resembles a cope is on the shoulders of two figures. The tunic, or petticoat, is the same as in the above-described Greek figures, and in those which I call Cypriote, as well as in Christian ecclesiastical costumes. All these Cypriote terra-cotta figures are females. Many of them exhibit a characteristic attitude of standing with both elbows bent before the breast, while the hands respectively hold the mammǽ. Of this type there are at leasta dozen more examples. This attitude may be ceremonial, and due to the peculiar cultus of the island. All the figures which exhibit it wear stoles as distinctive parts of their costume. Other figures, although holding their mammas, wear no stoles; while such examples as that figure which is in the act of playing on a lyre, display the stole, but are not in this peculiar attitude. This effigy belongs to another class. Several figures wear stoles, and carry offerings, one of which grasps a dove by its wings with the left hand. Nearly all the statuettes in question have fully-developed busts. One of the most remarkable of the " sacerdotal" class, which I am now describing, is an unusually large, one. It is the portly figure of a lady, or priestess, standing erect, with the above-mentioned action of the hands, and wearing surplice, tunic, and stole. On her head is a crown of disks; below, a wreath of laurel. Her hair, which appears to be braided, is spread on her shoulders, as in another remarkable example of the same character. Three carcanets are about her neck. Two of them consist of amphora-like pendants, with other pendants in the centre, one of which is a disk;'the other (as before) like the fruit of a date tree. The third necklace consists of beads, with a central disk ornament and its trefoil pendant, as in other examples mentioned below. In front of the waist of this figure, and attached to a large ring, which is suspended round the neck by a chain, or yoke, are depending three of the objects we are accustomed to call "keys", to the size of modern examples of which, as in other respects, they bear but a very remote likeness indeed. They are not quite unlike " iron hands", or tongs intended for use in gathering the articles together from a distance towards the person who uses the apparatus. This resemblance is rather fanciful than exact, and it is due, not to the forms of the object singly, but to them when grouped and as a whole. They consist of flattened oval rings of metal attached to a seal ring. They thus afford illustrations of the use and mode of carrying large personal seals, such as those which are comprised in other sections of this assembly of antiquities. Similar articles, or "keys", occur in other statuettes, some of which are of inferior mark, all of which wear the stole and chasuble, as noticed above. Two seem to be the work of the same artist. The "keys" are very large in one of them, while to one of these keys is 'suspended an ornament, utensil, instrument, or what not, which in modern parlance would be called a "charm", and is in the human form. It is, in fact, a tiny statuette. Such an object is to be seen with another figure, in company with precisely similar "keys". For tiny statuettes, the reader may refer to the notes on gold ornaments in another part of the work. Both of the above-named figures wear large armlets just below their shoulders, and making two "turns" round the limbs in question. Such armlets occur with a statuette

Back to Topic