Art Principles and History

Prehistoric Art

What is the Lion Man of Hohlenstein Stadel?

Most Paleolithic sculpture depicts women, not men, but an exception to this is the Lion Man, carved from mammoth ivory and dating from approximately 30,000 B.C.E. Discovered in modern-day Germany, the Lion Man sculpture depicts a blend of feline and human characteristics. Some scholars believe the Lion Man is actually a Lion Woman, and some other examples of similar female sculpture have been discovered. This sculpture is almost a foot high (much bigger than the comparatively stumpy Venus of Willendorf) and demonstrates the high quality carving skills and creativity possessed by prehistoric people. The significance of the Lion Man sculpture is not known. It is possible the piece depicts a human figure wearing a lion mask, but it is also possible that the work depicts a human-animal hybrid of spiritual significance.


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