Figure of a standing woman

Period: Parthian

Date: ca. 2nd century B.C.–2nd century A.D.

Geography: Mesopotamia, said to be from Ctesiphon

Culture: Parthian

Medium: Gypsum alabaster

Dimensions: 10.62 in. (26.97 cm)

Classification: Stone-Sculpture

Credit Line: Wolfe Expedition, Purchase, Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Gift, 1886

Accession Number: 86.16.1


This standing female is full-figured, with rings of flesh at her waist and three horizontal lines suggesting a fleshy neck. The hair is combed back into a knot at the back of the head. The lower arms were separately attached. Her left hand, open with the palm up, may have held an object. Like many other female figurines found in Mesopotamia, this one had inlaid eyes. Mesopotamian female figurines, both reclining and standing, were often given a plaster or bitumen wig and, although there are no traces of color here, details such as sandals, necklaces, upper-arm bracelets, and lines around the navel and pubic triangle were frequently added in paint. Jointed female figurines were dedicated at Greek temples and sanctuaries. Similar pieces, also with the lower arms attached separately, have been excavated from Parthian graves and residences. These Parthian figurines have been variously described as goddesses, dolls, and fertility amulets.