Figurines – diminutive tabletop sculptures – have always played an important role in the material culture of human societies. We may have memories of our Grandmother’s cluttered mantelpiece, crammed full of miniature porcelain figures of French lovers or shepherds watching sheep; or of gazing through thick glass at the precious statuettes encased in the vitrines the British Museum; we may have carved ebony warriors brought back from a trip to Africa. Figurines, representing men, women and animals have had a treasured place in almost every home around the world, in every place, culture or time.
Figurines have been made and collected and even sometimes worshipped by cultures across the globe for thousands of years. They have been used in rituals and ceremonies, in games and for decorative purposes. Dating back as early as the Iron Age, figurines have always been an important element in human culture. The tradition continues today.
The Earliest Figurines – The Venus of Willendorf
One of the most famous stone figurines in the history of human material culture is known as the Venus of Willendorf. Currently in residence in Vienna, the Willendorf Venus was excavated from a paleolithic site near Willendorf in Austria in 1908. Nobody is precisely sure of how old the Venus of Willendorf is, but estimates range from between 28,000-22,000 BCE, making her up to 30,000 years old! For her age she’s looking great!
The form of the Venus – with huge, full breasts, a large belly, no face and no feet – brings to mind a pregnant female figure, which has led researchers to believe that she was intended as a fertility Goddess and it has been suggested that such figurines were carved by women themselves.
Many similar figurines from that period exist, which leads one to believe that they did indeed have some important purpose, whether it was to commemorate pregnancy, wish for it or even just to decorate the home..
It was the Chinese who first started making the first small porcelain figurines, similar to the ones we see in many homes today. These Chinese figurines, which were originally designed specifically for the Chinese Emperor, date back as far as the 7th century AD.
More than a thousand years later, in 1709, the Meissen Factory began creating replicas of these porcelain Chinese figures at the behest of August the Strong, for his ‘Japanese Palace’. The figurines created by Meissen grew in popularity throughout the 18th century and by the 19th century over a thousand porcelain factories had set up producing figurines, as people sought out new ways to decorate their homes. Figurines became incredibly collectible.
Me To You Figurines
In recent years Me To You Figurines have become one of the most collectible figurines on the market. Their loveable mascot, Tatty Teddy – a scruffy grey bear with a distinctive blue nose – has touched the hearts of literally millions of people across the globe. Me To You figurines are able to express and commemorate a range of emotions, important moments and special memories for so many of us, making them highly sought after. Like many collectible figurines through history, porcelain Me To You Bears are often released in limited editions, to tie in with special occasions such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day or the birth of a new baby.
Throughout their history, figurines have played an important role in human society, marking occasions, expressing hopes and fears, being collectors items and decorating people’s homes. Me To You figurines are now taking their place in this fascinating history, this story of human life.