Balkans, c. 4000 BC (Old Europe)

BalkansThis painting is based on the early pre-Indo-European Neolithic cultures of the Balkans and Turkey, marking the development of early agriculture. The central figure is based on an anthropomorphic pot from Hacilar in Turkey, similar to many found throughout the region. She is on a scale with the mountains, so she is both mountain and pot. She holds another, smaller pot, into which the dead, in skeleton form,  are climbing and where they seem to be having a party (this is the Balkans, and funerals are always occasions for parties). She is surrounded by artifacts from the region, which populate her world. In the upper right corner is the moon, surrounded by a crescent moon design from a painted pot. The moon is reflected in the pool in front of her, which is fed by a mountain stream, but also milk from her breast. Clay figurines of horned beasts are drinking from the pool, which is also home to the flock of waterbirds in the upper left. The flock is accompanied by another clay figure of the mother with a bird’s head in a chariot (another vessel). The clouds and rain gathering at the top of the mountain are also from the design on a painted pot, and cattle and sheep (horned beasts) graze in the background. In the front left corner more clay female figurines bake bread in a model oven found in Bulgaria. The oven echoes the form of the central figure and is another vessel which produces food for people. The bread in the foreground is used in present-day fertility rituals as observed by Matsen in Koprivshtitsa, Bulgaria. To the right is another modern harvest ritual from Koprivshtitsa, with ancient roots.

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