So busy, i haven’t posted for months, but here’s a recent photo essay from the Suppressed Histories Archives Facebook page.  To avoid confusion: descriptions and commentary appear under each image. Enjoy…
—Max Dashu

Zerovschan, Tajikistan, Central Asia

Women’s circle dance in bronze age rock art from Zerovschan, Tajikistan, with numinous quadrant in center. They appear to be wearing skirts, but the dot between the legs is a very common female sign, or the dot in vulva which may also figure  here.

Tepe Sialk, Iran, 5th millennium bce

Neolithic Iran is extremely rich in ceramic paintings of women’s circle dances, running around the circumference of what were probably ceremonial vessels.

From Ray (Rhages) Iran, 4000s

Here is one of the finest Iranian paintings, showing women wearing tall headdresses, communal female potency in sacred movement, their rhythm pulsing through the brush. Ray (Rey, Rhae, Rhagae, Rhages) is near Tehran.

Iran, site unknown

This is really tiny, grabbed off the web with no info at all, but also from neolithic Iran, and it speaks. The zag patterns around the are also found in Turkmenistan and Iraq in the same late neolithic timeframe.

In Syria, too: left, Halaf; right, Sabi Abyad. More tall headdresses! Both of these sites were important cultural centers in 6000-5000 bce, with their own characteristic styles of ceramic female icons. The Halafian style spread widely in the mid-6th millennium, peacefully, by diffusion from village to village, not centralized trade. Women making their own images, in clearly recognizable styles that still varied from region to region.  The importance of this international neolithic pattern has not been widely recognized, yet; but someday i’ll find color photos of this cultural testimony.

Diyala region, eastern Iraq, 4300-3100 bce

Conflicting information on this one, either from Tell Agrab or Tell Hassuna, both in Iraq river valleys. Three women (vulture-headed?) with animals and growing things. They are holding discs which may be drums, the other hands would then be drumming with sticks. Vulture-headed female figurines are common in Egypt in the same time frame.

Samarra, Iraq, circa 5000 bce

A classic from Samarra, Iraq, circa 5000 bce. This neolithic town created a long line of splendid painted ceramics and female figurines (which start back in the pre-pottery era, so old is the tradition there). Here women stand in the quadrants, their hair whirling in the Four Winds, circled by a ring of scorpions. Scorpion Goddess is common in ancient Iraq and Iran as well as Egypt — Serqet, the companion of Auset (Isis) — and also known in Central America.

Harappa, Indus River, Pakistan

The women dancing with streaming hair, this time from Harappa, Pakistan. Also neolithic. As in Iraq and Iran, women in the Indus foothill villages painted many pots showing their ceremonial dances. But here, and also in Iran, the ibex and mountain goat are common themes. A Goddess connected with these animals is still revered by the Kalasha who keep alive very ancient forms of culture of this region.

Kulli, Pakistan, before 3000 bce

The Women’s Dance from Kulli, Pakistan. This image was so commonly repeated that it became highly abstracted into a few strokes over time. Artists emphasized the flowing hair and dynamic movement of the Round Dance, still performed by women in the Punjab and among Adivasi (Aboriginal) women in India. These ancient ceramic paintings, fragmentary as they are, speak of a deep history of neolithic village women that has been obscured and overlaid by so many layers that few ever know that it exists.
 

2 Responses to The Women’s Dance I: Southern Asia

  1. David says:

    Wow fascinating stuff. I am really insterested in knowing what types of ancient customs especially from ‘Stone Age’ times have been preserved or kept alive today.

    Concerning this particular survey of South and Central Asia, do you know of any corollaries with say the Kalasha people who are the only remaining ‘pagans’ in Pakistan? The ibex seems to heavily figure among the peoples of the Hindu Kush and cis-Himalayan region. I remember womens dances on certrain festivals or occasions being common as well.

  2. Max Dashu says:

    Yes, the ibex (which i just found out is a mountain goat) is connected with goddesses, going back a long ways, and with Hindu Kish area women’s assemblies at altars. I don’t remember where i filed this info, but it’s an important link. The Kalasha are very threatened now; their cousins over the Afghan border in Nooristan (formerly Kafiristan, land of the Pagans) were forcibly converted to Islam over a century ago.