Negroid Head

The Negroid Head Venus

The Venus of Balzi Rossi is the Venus figurine of a negroid head of a woman, made from slightly fibrous green soapstone. It was found at the La Grotte du Prince site in the Balzi Rossi Caves of Grimaldi, Italy. It measures 24 mm in height, 24.5 mm front to back and 15 mm maximum width and probably dates to the Gravettian or Old Epigravettian.


The surface is polished and worn, especially the face, which suggests that the object was already an isolated head in the Paleolithic. The facial features are strikingly represented: there is a receding forehead with massive eyebrows and deep eye sockets. The nose is not present, it may be worn away, but most likely its depiction was prohibited by the shape of the piece of stone used. The cheekbones are strong, and the mouth is rendered by two small horizontal incisions aligned at the bottom of a depression, limited by a weak but clearly marked chin. The coiffure, largely destroyed, is represented by a grid reminiscent of the Venus of Brassempouy and that of the Femme à la tête quadrillée, from Laussel. The coiffure is represented by a series of incisions starting at the forehead, over the bun or chignon and back down onto the neck, cut by transverse incisions, the first of which form a kind of band above the forehead. Note that nearly half of the coiffure has been broken off.