Swimming Reindeer Sculpture

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Limited edition original sculpture inspired by a 13,000 year old carved mammoth tusk.

The original Swimming Reindeer lives at the British Museum but did make it's way up north to Creswell Crags a few years ago for a special exhibition.

This Ice Age sculpture was discovered in 1866 - as 2 separate pieces - at the site of Montastruc in the Midi-Pyrénées region of France. It was carved from mammoth ivory and consists of a pair of reindeer, a larger male [stag] following a smaller female [hind]. The piece is called the ‘Swimming Reindeer’ because the heads of the reindeer are raised, with antlers back and legs extended as if swimming. The bodies of the reindeer have been finely carved in the round. Both animals depicted have antlers [the only female deer which have antlers are reindeer] and the shading on the female’s coat suggests long hair with distinctive markings and bands of colour, which suggests that the artist was intending to represent autumn = the period of mating. This piece is thought to be one of a small number of figurative sculptures that were not made to decorate weapons such as a spear thrower or as jewellery; it may have been a totem for an individual or a group, it may have represented a myth, or it may have been an allegory of autumn and the animals’ successful mating and future survival - key to all. The sculpture dates from the end of the last Ice Age, and is thought to be at least 13,000 years old. (Bradshaw Foundation)


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