Alabaster Ladies

The miniature female statuette has a long history. I was able to see these Babylonian alabaster sculptures as part of the Met Museum’s exhibition The World Between Empires: Art and Identity in the Ancient Middle East. These were made between the 1st century BC and AD and adorned with rubies and gold. Originally, the arms were made separately and attached using gold, but it’s not clear why. It’s likely that it was simply easier than carving the entire stone and allowed for less breakage later on.

Ivory and alabaster are still used in the cosmetics industry to describe ideal shades of foundation for light-skinned women. Most buyers are not aware of what alabaster and ivory look like, but they have been associated with feminine beauty for over two thousand years.

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