Exaggeration is a feature in the art of figurines and statues intended to represent the gods and goddesses of ancient times. It is human nature to exaggerate, in when it comes to objects of worship that which was considered to be of great value was therefore exaggerated in the representation. This could be interpreted as understanding gods as exaggerated humans. The images of Paleolithic and Neolithic Mother Goddess figurines come from a religious tradition that clearly has a great appreciation for fertility and the female form, as the statues and representations have a considerable focus on genitals, breasts, the stomach, buttocks and other parts of the female form, in each case exaggerated beyond the possibility of biology or physics. The Hindu gods possessed multiple arms, faces and even took extra-human features such as the head of an animal. The Greek statues of gods and goddesses show a form that is idealized to the point of unachievable perfection. Some might see this as being similar to marketing today which uses Photoshop and modern digital means to accomplish the same thing- and exaggerated view of beauty as understood by that culture. Exaggeration occurs with regard to that which is valued in a culture, in the case of Paleolithic communities it was fertility, and in the case of Hindu gods it was extra capacity through additional body parts, and with the Ancient Greeks it was an idealized form of beauty. Our human nature to exaggerate appears to be tied to wanting a reality where there is something bigger and better than ourselves, particularly in the form of a spirit of god that is more powerful than we are. Given the persistence through history it can be assumed that this desire for an exaggerated being with powers or features which would be extraordinary in a human is strong. In the past century it could be seen perhaps in the form of superheroes in movies, or in the photos magazines take of the rich, famous and attractive.

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Reflections on Exaggeration in Ancient Art

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