Rose Wognum Frances

Catal Huyuk:

Girl Revealing Henna Hands

Paint on wood and canvas, incised copper, sculpted clay vessels 42”H x 22”W x 3” D (doors open) Archaeomythology Series #3 2001

In 1997, I presented a paper and my artwork at an international conference in Istanbul, Turkey.  After the conference, we traveled to Ankara to the Museum of Anatolian civilizations, and to the archaeological dig at Catal Huyuk, a town that flourished 8000 years ago.  We walked down an ancient dirt track near the dig to a village dominated by a huge well of archaic design. The village’s buildings were strikingly similar to the buildings found in the dig, with handmade adobe walls and flat roofs.  In front of one building with large wooden doors, I was astonished to see cow skulls hanging on the fence and in the trees. The skulls were decorated with ribbons and enlivened by fruits placed in the eye sockets. The skulls evoked the mysterious skulls found in the shrine rooms of the ancient city. Catal Huyuk’s mysterious skulls were enhanced with adobe, painted with complex symbols. As I wandered with my group, I felt what can only be described as “power” behind me, compelling me to turn away from the group.  I beheld a young girl, who met my eyes with great solemnity and meaning. With slow deliberation, as though she was sharing a great secret,  she opened her hands to reveal her red palms, holding my gaze with her eyes of eternity. I thought of the red hands enriching the painted walls and ceramics of the ancient city, and I felt as though the girl was showing  me that the ancient culture lives on in the stories and traditions of her family. In the center panel of my artwork, I depicted her with the Catal Huyuk image of the vulture, with great comblike wings, evoking the mysteries of Birth, Death, and Regeneration.

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