What specific characteristics of the sculpture Venus of Willendorf are said to reflect the nomadic culture in which she was created?
The Venus of Willendorf sculpture is only one of a large group of "Venus" sculptures produced in Europe during the Paleolithic age. Many sculptures portray women with exaggerated sexual characteristics: breasts, buttocks, and genitalia. More than 200 of these figures have been found to date, and they are made of many different materials: stone, bone, ivory, or clay. Many meanings have been attributed to this sculpture genre. However, the works themselves are so widely spaced in time as well as geography that nothing definitive has ever been found about their ritual, religious, or cultural meaning.
The Venus of Willendorf is typical of a sculpture made by a nomadic civilization because of its materials, indicative of a hunting culture, and its small size, which makes it (and the other Venus sculptures) very portable. Some Venus sculptures are drilled with holes, perhaps so they could be worn.
For close-up views of a Venus and other Paleolithic sculpture, watch Werner Herzog's documentary film "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" made in 2010 in France's Chauvet Caves, one of the most remarkably well-preserved Paleolithic sites in the world.
An element of nomadic culture in the Venus of Willendorf can be found through the lack of distinctive facial markings. It has been thought that since the Venus of Willendorf lacked any notable features of countenance, she was representative of a nomadic culture. There is a lack of specificity to the Venus of Willendorf, helping to enhance a nomadic feature to it. Some believe that given the small size of the figurine, she could have been used by hunters in a nomadic culture as a good luck charm. In this theory, the hunters carried the Venus of Willendorf with them for good luck on their hunts or to remind them of the women who were back home. Being seen as a source of fertility also helps to enhance this nomadic culture. This helps to support the nomadic culture theory, reflective of men who leave the home in order to provide or in order to gather food themselves. This culture would have been nomadic, having traveled to where the food source would be. The Prehistoric condition of the figurine in which culture was not settled in one particular place and more mobile helps to enhance the nomadic reflections in her being.
The sculpture Venus of Willendorf, which is thought to date back to between 24,000 to 22,000 BCE, was discovered in 1908 outside the Austrian town of Willendorf. It is tiny in size, measuring only 4.5 inches high, making it the perfect object for nomadic tribes to carry with them in their characteristic travels. While some experts believe that the sculpture's enlarged reproductive areas signify that it was a fertility symbol or charm, other experts believe that it was a good luck talisman. Hunters in the nomadic society from which the sculpture came could have easily carried it about with them. The sculpture has seven concentric braids on its head, and the number seven was thought to confer good luck on people. For these reasons, experts believe that nomads carried about the Venus with them for good luck.