This global visual survey offers an expansive view of women in regions and epochs rarely discussed outside specialized academic publications. They are, for the most part, withheld from common knowledge.
cultural treasures are the megalithic women of Ethiopia and France; those painted in the extremely ancient rock galleries of the Sahara and the Kimberley, of Baja California and Zimbabwe; the female portraits in the ceramic masterpieces of Nok and Ilé-Ife, and Jama Coaque in Ecuador; the fine stone sculptures of Illinois and Vietnam, and the rugged sheila-na-gigs of Ireland.
A global scan of the ancient cultural record brings into focus the faces of an ignored and unacknowledged female past: women shamans in eastern Asia, female statue menhirs in Italy, and petroglyphs depicting women making majestic gestures of invocation in Niger and Arabia. Women's ceremony also appears in the bronzes of China and Benin, and the seals of Crete and the Indus valley.
Some of this ancient art revolves around female ancestors; other images make visible the leadership of living women, cultural practices, ceremonial regalia. No absolute interpretations are attempted here about the more ambiguous images, and whether they represent ancestors, deities, shamans, or other living women. In fact, there may be overlap, since ancestral beings are sometimes depicted in ritual regalia, which living humans re-enact in their ceremonies.
This presentation also compares similarities between cultures separated by great distances: the woman-pipes of the Mississippian cultures of North America, and of the Tapajós valley in Brazil. Or again, the clay reliefs of women's breasts on the walls of 20th century Nuba houses in Sudan and their neolithic counterparts in southern Germany. A very wide range of cultures in Asia, the Americas, Europe and Africa created ceramic breastpots, offering us a glimpse of ritual practices going back more than 5000 years.
live visual presentation by Max Dashu
90 minutes (or 60 minute version)
extra time for questions / discussion
Alafia good people: I just want to take this opportunity to praise the work of Max Dashu.
In Ifa we say it is important to call Red red and Black black. This woman's work is impeccable.
She is a long time worker on behalf of bringing the truth of history to the world, placing the history, art, and spirituality of the African diaspora in its proper place. If you are looking to educate yourself on our glorious past or to get a real view of the ancient world I highly recommend the works of Max Dashu.
In Sisterhood and Pride in Being Human. --Iyalode Luisah Teish, author of Jambalaya