First Mother

Here’s a little bit of archaeology for you. The figurine pictured above was found at the Turkish site of Çatalhöyük. It dates back at least to 5700 BC. The site had been occupied from around 9000 BC, but the figurine was found in the upper layer.

The resemblance to images of Cybele seated on her lion throne is remarkable, but caution is advisable here. That image was only used for the goddess after Greek culture swept across Turkey. The original Phrygian goddess, while often shown with wild animals, including lions, was not depicted on a lion throne, or riding on a lion for that matter.

It is also worth noting that the cats in the Çatalhöyük figurine are leopards, not lions. Possibly that’s a result of access. If the neolithic people of the region didn’t see lions they would have picked leopards instead to represent feline majesty.

While Inanna/Ishtar and Cybele are more usually associated with lions, the connection of women with leopards has continued for thousands of years. The Amazons, whom the Greeks said lived around the Black Sea, were depicted on vases they were often shown wearing leopard print clothing, or perhaps actual leopard fur.

Which just goes to show that there is nothing new in fashion, and gives me an excuse to wear leopard print with pride.

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