Hamangia culture: Thinker ceramic figurine in context
© 2009 InternationalInstitute of Anthropology
© 2009 Lolita Nikolova, PhD
Created: August 28, 2009.
Last updated: August 30, 2009.
External link: Romanian history
Another photo at Londonconstant
Ian Barbu makes analogy with the King and Quuen's
sculpture group of Henry Moore (
external link)
The copies of the figurines are some of the most popular in
the global culture.
Professor Douglass W Bailey about the figurines from the Hamangia culture (Prehistoric figurines)
Comments on what he wrote (
external link)
The Cambridge Ancient History (
external link)
Masterpieces of Neolithic art (external link) (the same as
above).
Art, emotional expressions and social context

The Hamangia figurine of a male in a thinking position found together with a female figurine is among the most popular and most
remarkable pieces of the world miniature art (
Bailey 2005). They belong to Hamangia culture and were discovered in a grave on the
cemetery of Cernavoda (Dobroudja, Romania) (
Cambridge ancient history).
      They are no reasons to believe that they were made especially for the burial. As complete art works, they more likely were a burial
gift or as a part of the life belongings of the deceased.
      One of the key problems of these figurines is to which extend they represent real emotions, or just follow a specific artistic style. If
we presume that they represent real emotions, then, the next question is: What did the male think about? Most generally, we may
believe they represent emotionally a care about unpleasant problems, since there is a great weight on their mind, and especially on the
mind of the male figurine -  they may have cared about bad weather, absence of subsistence or a social crisis in the community they
belonged to, or about a complex crisis.
      One of the most difficult strategies that the human culture never could find a successful weapon to fight against are the human
intrigues. Under intrigue we understand human visible and/or invisible practices which goal is to harm people, usually in order to gain
own success. The intrigues cannot be even covered by ethical codex and very often they continue toward even criminal activities. When
in the intrigues are involved a group of people, then it has a character of a coalition. The intrigue thinking is dishonest, and the social
behaviour varies - from the most calm to arrogant.
      For many people the intrigue at the expenses of honest people is the only way to win and to be successful in society. Having such
figurines in the home would be a metaphoric protest against possible problems in community which was difficult to resolve through the
verbal communication and culture. In many cases the visual culture is stronger because it activates emotions.
     There are many reason to believe that the Hamangia communities were highly competitive. There were involved in a network of
earliest metal trade that resulted in prosperity and development of the concept of wealth. There is a big cemetery in Northeast Bulgaria,
which was almost completely excavated, for unknown reasons. It is located near Durankulak and was non-rescue excavations. Although
not very informative, the publication of the graves (
Todorova 2002) informs roughly that in many graves were discovered copper
bracelets. In other words, either the communities reached the level of treasuring wealth, or there was a ritual regulation mechanism
that made the people to treasure their personal belongings even without the household to be very rich. Usually such norms involves the
belief about the other world.
     Because the female figurine keeps the typical of the Balkan prehistoric figurines dignitary position, the gesture of the male could
be interpreted as demonstrative, so the figurines were a part of possibly wealthy and recognized family household inventory who tried
to use the symbolic language of the visual culture to have communicated the idea of awareness and at least willing the things to
change.