As the culture of the ancient Greece changed, the Greek sculpture also evolved. Through different historical times of the ancient Greece, there were different sculptural designs. The female sculptures evolved from the conservative creations, as far as elaborate female scriptures are concerned. Early in the archaic age, the female sculptures consisted of fully covered women revealing some parts of the body only. The dressing was also unpretentious and classical. The sculptures evolved through the ages to sculptures of nude women in many poses in the Hellenistic age. The development in the female sculptures was due to the changing social environment for women.
The earliest sculptures in ancient Greece were the Korai, Kore in singular form. The Korai were the female model statues between the year 650 B.C and 450 B.C., when sculptures stood with non-natural human dimensions, and covered the entire woman’s body, leaving only small parts of the body open. The people of the age usually put these sculptures in sanctuaries and dedicated the sculptures to divinity. The people would also place the sculptures on the tombs of young girls. The sculpture in tombs represented the ideal image of the young woman who is deceased. The sculpture on the sanctuaries represented the goddesses or divinity’s image that people dedicated them.
One of the earliest examples of a female figure of Korai in the ancient Greece during the archaic age is Nikandre Kore, in the seventh century BC. The sculpture is of Parian marble material and 1.73m size. At the bottom of the sculpture, one can see inscription names of the givers of the sculpture to the Delos sanctuary where historians found it. The sculpture’s inscription states the names of all men in the life of Nikandre, i.e. her father, brother, and the husband. The inscription uses boustrophedon style that means ox turning just like what happens when with a plough in the field. The figure’s dedication is to Artemis as the inscriptions describe. The description of Nikandre in terms of men in her life shows the identity of women at the time.
The sculpture’s face assumes a triangular face, and a plank-like flat body with the arms and the hands close to the body. The female figure wears a dress covering the whole of her body. The dress covers the body from neck to toes; thus, leaving only the arms, feet, and face visible.
The covering of the body and the legs leaving only the face, feet, and the hands uncovered acted to protect and preserve the woman’s modesty. The Korai also had an unpretentious dressing to avoid attracting people’s attention. The artists did not emphasize the female nature. The sculptures showed the breasts but did not highlight them, showed non-pronounced hips and curves, and put ordinary hairstyles. All these were to make an appearance as easy as possible and avoid attracting the attention of people, as well as and depict modesty of the woman. Another example of the earliest Kore meeting the above description is the Berlin Kore dated 600 B.C.
Between the years of 600 B.C and 500 B.C, the artists began to be more elaborate on the Korai. The artists began to put folds on the garments of the sculptures, and the dressing was no longer restrained. The women in the sculptures now had dresses that had folds and ridges. The hairstyles of these women were no longer natural but more elaborate. The artists painted the hair of women in bright and more vivid colors. The artists added accessories to the bodies of women in the sculptures like bracelets, pins, and earrings that the artists put on different parts of the woman’s body. The artists also put the accessories in different styles. An example of this Kore is the Antenor Kore. The Kore shows blue, red, and green traces of painting. At this time, the people of Greece started paying more attention to the beauty of a woman. The arts started showing women with ornaments like necklaces and flowers in her head.
As the sixth century progressed, the Korai continued to develop. The artists started to pay more attention to the figure of the woman. The artists began creating sculptures showing buttocks and the breasts of the woman that were more voluptuous and full. The sculptures remained clothed, but the clothing was sheer. The sculptures attracted the attention of the viewer to be aware of the woman’s body that was beneath the clothing. The Korai in these times showed the tensions that existed in the roles of the female gender in the society. The full clothing on the female sculptures and the drapery of the clothing meant that women should remain chaste. The women were also to remain secluded from the male society, depicted by the nature of the dressing of the Korai. On the other hand, the society seemed aware of the sexuality of the females. The society knew about the sexuality features beneath the female’s clothing that the society viewed as a trap for men. An example of such a Korai is the Kore from the Acropolis. The Kore, just like other developed Korai, seems to hint on the hidden sexuality of the human body.
The classical age (480 B.C to 323 B.C) came after the archaic age. During this time, the female sculptures suddenly changed. At this time, the sculptors began creating nude female sculptures unlike in the archaic age when female sculptures were fully clothed. The female sculptures at the time were more lifelike and more realistic. The nude female sculptures went by name the Aphrodite. An example is the Aphrodite of Ostia. At this time, the sculptures dedicated their time to exploit their potential in decorations. The Greeks viewed the Aphrodite as the perfect beauty embodiment. The artists were under pressure to carry on with the impression on the sculptures. The new development in sculptures came at the time, where the people of Greece received powers, since democratic rule and the numerous wars shaped art at the time. At the classical age, the people became appreciative of the female sexuality, and the woman was not supposed to remain secluded from the men.
After the classical age, there was the Hellenistic age (323 B.C to 31 B.C). At this age, the changing cultural environment influenced arts including the female sculpturing. The sculptures of the Hellenistic period enhanced the eroticism of the female body. During this time, the female nude sculptures flourished and sexual intercourse became synonymous with Aphrodisia, a term referring to these female sculptures. At this time, the women’s social position in the society had improved. The Hellenistic period signified the liberation of women from the conservative male dominated society. Unlike the classical period, the sculptures had nude women in various poses like bending or even laying down. An example of a female sculpture in the Hellenistic period is the Capitoline Aphrodite. The sculpture showed a nude woman with one hand covering her private parts while she crossed her other hand below her breasts. Another example of a sculpture in this age is the Venus Di Milo. The sculpture shows a semi naked woman only covering the lower part of the body loosely. The woman is raising one of her hand while crossing the other across her body.