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On this textile, and several others illustrated here, the
deliberate appearance of such archaic references begins to supply direct links which both the slit-tapestry weaving and classic mythological traditions share with much earlier prehistoric sources. This design contains a pair of
powerful spiral arms, which originally were mirror-imaged by another pair attached to the same central diamond below. The iconographic importance of the spiral was already established by the late Paleolithic (circa 15,000
B.C.) when the appearance of this symbol was used to represent the swirling motion of energy inherent in the birth process. Its use can also be frequently witnessed in the cultural artefacts of many much later preliterate societies.
The three human figures, however, which seem to float above this rotation vortex have far clearer connection to their source. They are woven representations of actual bone and ivory "dolls", carved during the Coptic period in
Egypt and well known from many excavation sites. While no overt sexual characteristics have been defined on this textile, their fancy, feminine headdresses imply gender and also connections to the earlier Palaeolithic and Neolithic
goddess tradition. Their benign countenance and open arm gesture they display could very well signify the benevolence proponents of this theory have ascribed to the goddess. 9
The retention of this ancient symbol implies how this textile, and in fact others as well, have preserved an iconography stretching back to man's cultural beginnings.
Such instances when viewed singly but more significantly
when seen as a group provide proof for our belief that careful analysis of archaic Near Eastern slit-tapestry weavings will provide another avenue to gain understanding of prehistoric cultures. And how the
retention of the iconographic motifs they established were actively represented not only in the art of later civilizations but also our own.
9. Several recent publications – “The Language of the Goddess”, “The
Chalice and the Blade” and “The Once and Future Goddess” – have popularized as well as commercialized this viewpoint.