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The exhibit

Bairia, Gazi 1300-1200 BC

Clay figurines of the type known as the “goddess with upraised arms” are distinguished by the conventional gesture of raising their hands and by the various religious symbols on their heads. This figure is very stylised, with a long dress represented by a cylinder. Both hands are raised in what may be a gesture of prayer, greeting or blessing. There are few details on the body apart from the small conical breasts and a simple neck ornament. The face, on the contrary, is strongly emphasised, with striking features resembling a mask. These figurines were found in community sanctuaries of Postpalatial Cretan settlements of the 13th century BC and are believed to represent goddesses. This particular example is preserved intact and is known as the “Poppy Goddess”. Its discovery in a vineyard in Gazi led to the excavation of the site and the discovery of a sanctuary containing five figurines of goddesses with upraised arms and other ceremonial objects. The figurine takes its name from the opium poppy seedheads adorning the diadem around her head. As opium is a hallucinogen known for its sedative and healing properties, it was probably the symbol of a specific goddess with healing and soothing powers.
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