December 17, 2018

Romania - Piatra Neamț - The Neolithic Cucuteni Art Museum

Long time ago, the part of Romania where I come from was occupied by a civilisation we now call Cucuteni. Little is known about this civilisation, except maybe that they were worshippers of the Goddess and they were skilled in pottery.

Wikipedia offers an extended page telling you a lot about this civilisation, including their diet, but I am here to tell you about a special museum located in Piatra Neamț, in northern part of Romania. To my knowledge this is the most extended museum dedicated to Cucuteni Culture and if you have the time or curiosity to visit it, I can almost guarantee You will be impressed.

As it happened I went there with my friends, a group of women shaping the image of Romania today, by discovering its ancient traditions and bringing them to life. They are making the incredible blouses which I've exhibited at the beginning of this year in Luxembourg.

What I found amazing about this museum and about Cucuteni in general is that the more they discover about this civilisation, the more it is hidden. They could very well have been using metals before the metals were even discovered, they made their own cloth and had looms before the whole Europe knew what looms were, the symbols on their pottery are almost impossible to trace without tools which we only now possess, they worshipped this Goddess which we now discover and contest, as patriarchal as we are, so even after I've visited the museum in Cucuteni, Iași and this one in Neamț, I'm no wiser about this civilisation, but more intrigued.
I was impressed by the Goddess though. At the museum in Neamț there is a whole room dedicated to her, there is an ensemble of 21 goddesses which were hidden for 6900 years underground until they were discovered in 1981. 15 of them are painted with red and 6 are unpainted, one is the leader as she is the only one with her hand raised, they are sitting. Is it a rituallic gathering? We don't know. Why 21? We again don't know, but similar formations were discovered in three other places so it must mean something. Why 15 and 6? What are the markings they bear? We don't know.
And then there is her. The symbol on her belly we now translate as something with seeds and pointing out that it must mean fertility, of the woman, of the land, we again only speculate. 
To me, from a distance, these looked like spindles, but they are again the representation of this goddess. 
The ram horns and the W, symbols or masculine power, or are they?
People painted on a vessel 

Those spindles as I've called them were found inside a vessel in a similar formation. Why were they hidden?

At some point you have to stop wondering and accept.
They are a civilisation unknown, named after the first place where we discovered their artefacts. They might as well be called in another way, but we will never know. What they left us, though, is valuable and we have to cherish and teach our children and they in their turn will ask questions and then accept. We have to accept that some time, long ago, we were a flourishing civilisation governed by women, we produced these amazing pottery and we worked the land and made cloth and blouses and that all is a round circle.
I know most of my friends here will spend the Winter Holidays in Romania, so why not make a trip to this amazing museum and see these objects by yourself? Piatra Neamț is a lovely little place tucked around the mountains. Have a go, see if you like it!
I hope you loved reading this post as much as I loved putting it together! Also, if you fancy keeping in contact with me, drop a line at on Facebook. 

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