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Dama de Elche (Lady of Elche)

  • Lady of Elche. National Archaeological Museum, Madrid © Santiago Relanzón. Fundación ITMA; Museo Arqueológico Nacional (N.I. 1971/10/1)

    Lady of Elche. National Archaeological Museum, Madrid © Santiago Relanzón. Fundación ITMA; Museo Arqueológico Nacional (N.I. 1971/10/1)

     
  

Category

Sculpture

Date

5th century B.C. – first half 4th century B.C.

Cultural background

Iberian

Original title

Dama de Elche

A female bust that helped to give shape and personality to the Iberian culture within the Mediterranean context. Today it is one of the museum's greatest treasures.

It shows a face with perfect features that are not entirely symmetrical. It is richly clothed and was coloured in red, blue and yellow, of which there are barely any traces. In the rear, there is a hole whose function has given rise to numerous interpretations.

Technically and stylistically it is considered to have a strong Greek influence. There has been speculation about whether its function was as a funerary receptacle, or representation of a goddess, priestess a local aristocratic personage. There has also been speculation whether it was created as a bust or part of a larger figure.

It was found in a hiding place within the walls, where it is thought to have been hidden to prevent its destruction. As a result, it has reached us practically intact.
 

Details of the work

Object
Bust

Dimensions
Height = 56 cm; Width = 45 cm; Thickness = 37 cm

Technique
Carved – Polychrome

Material
Limestone

  

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