Cypriot; Said to be from west of the temple at Golgoi
Limestone; H. (with base) 85 1/2 in. (217.2 cm)
The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76 (74.51.2466)
Typical of Cypriot sculpture of the sixth century B.C., this over-lifesize limestone statue has accentuated facial features, including a prominent nose and large eyes. The hint of an Archaic smile, the figure's rigid stance with one foot forward, and the long, spiral tresses falling over each shoulder attest to the influence of Greek sculpture on Cyprus at this time.
Black, red, and yellow painted designs once embellished the garments and helmet worn by this figure. The helmet is divided into vertical panels decorated with rows of red lotus flowers that may refer to the tree of life represented in Near Eastern art. The bull protome reinforces the figure's religious significance, as does the Cypriot inscription on the left shoulder: "[I belong to] the Paphian [i.e., Aphrodite]."
Bearded human figures wearing conical headdresses have a long history in Cypriot sculpture, dating from the end of the seventh century to the fifth century B.C. These sculptures most likely represent priests or dignitaries. The inscription on this statue, as well as its richly decorated garments and helmet, suggest that it represents a priest of a longlived fertility goddess who eventually became associated with the Greek goddess Aphrodite.