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The Venus of Laussel
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I Am the Venus of Laussel

by Ken Sanes

My name is the Venus of Laussel.
At least thatís the name people use
when they talk about me in English.
I am the figure of a woman
that was engraved on a limestone block
more than a thousand generations ago,
and Iíd like to tell you about myself.
To begin with, as you can see, I am nude,
with large breasts and a large belly and hips.
As you can also see, my two hands
seem to tell a story about who I am.
One hand is touching my belly,
which suggests that I am carrying a child
and that I'm about fertility and birth.
The other is holding a bison horn
that has the shape of a crescent moon,
as if Iím saying there's a connection
between the cycles of my own fertility
and the cycles of the moon in the night sky.
Unfortunately, I can't tell you for certain
if that's really what I'm trying to say
because Iíve forgotten most of the details.
After the first 10,000 years, things get a little fuzzy.
But a surprising number of people
have tried to help me remember.
They say that the horn in my hand
is a primitive musical instrument
or a cup Iím lifting to my mouth to drink.
And they say Iím a priestess or a goddess,
and that I play a role in magic rituals
for fertility, good fortune or a successful hunt.
Some even say that I am the female principle,
embodied in women and the changing moon,
or that I am Mother Nature engraved in stone,
who is a cornucopia overflowing with life,
and not really an individual at all,
which may explain why my face is blank
and canít give you a sense of who I am.
Many of them point to the notches in my horn
and wonder if it refers to numbers
associated with the cycles of the moon
and to the number of times in a year
some woman have their fertility cycles.
Of course, any of these ideas may be correct
since I pack a lot of meaning into a single space,
despite my meager seventeen-inch height.
You see, I was crafted by a people
who were as observant as you are today.
But they had less to work with then
so they created me to embody their vision
of a world governed by natural law
and imbued with the fullness of life.
Odd as it may sound, that makes me
a forerunner of the sacred texts,
and the forms of science and philosophy
you would develop millennia later.
As you can see, I've learned a lot
standing here in a museum all day,
observing you as you stop to take me in.
I know that you see me as a relic of the past,
from a time when metaphors about the world
were routinely mistaken for reality.
But there is something I can still teach you
since I am a testament to your own capacity
to give birth to deeply felt ideas.
And I am one of the last bearers of the soul of a people
who will never revisit the Earth.
They were members of your own family and, like you,
they saw, with a dim clarity, the miracle of a world
that re-creates itself from an unknown matrix.



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The Venus of Laussel at Don's Maps

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The Venus of Laussel
is in the
Musťe d'Aquitaine, in Bordeaux, France.
Please see this page for image information.
Copyright © 2010-2014 Ken Sanes