The Naked Elamite Figurine: A Talisman to Facilitate Difficult Labor

Document Type : Original Article


1 MSc, Department of Religion, Faculty of Theology, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

2 Ph.D., Department of Archeology, Faculty Member of Art and Architecture, University of Kashan, Kashan, Iran


During the Elamite Middle Ages (around the mid-second millennium BC) in the city of Susa in Iran, the remnants of a naked young female figurine with a wide pelvic cavity which has kept its breasts with two hands have long left scholars to think about its identity and functions. The naked figurines which were scattered on the grounds in the alleys and streets were known as The Urban Figurines. The lab research proved that they were broken intentionally. Despite a lot of research done on their identity and functions, they have remained a mystery. This article, which is field research, by doing library studies, has attempted to study the function(s) of figurines assumed in archeology, religion, and medicine. The vertical line on the abdomen of the figurines without any abdomen protrusion can symbolize a mother in labor. This feature differentiates these figurines from other naked ones. Furthermore, the presence of this figurine along with Sin god, or the god of moon, which symbolizes giving a hand to women in difficult labor, which was also observed on the seals impression discovered in Susa Zone, leads us to the hypothesis that these Naked Elamite figurines could be a talisman to facilitate the delivery. The figurines were broken by exorcists during the rituals held to repel evil forces which caused the delay in labor. Some parts of the broken figurine were buried in the walls of the public places and some other parts were offered to the temples of the indigenous goddesses, such as Pinengir and Kiririsha.