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Life Arts    H4'ed 9/17/14

Inked Amazons: Passionate Warrior Women Who Loved Cannabis, Battle-axes, Booty & Bling

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"In some nomad groups polyamory or 'free love' practices, multiple sexual partners for males and females, and polyandry (many 'husbands' or men) and polygamy (many 'wives' or women) were accepted. Xenophon, for example, remarked on the indiscriminate, public sexual intercourse of the tattooed Mossynoeci tribe of Pontus. Herodotus reported that the Agathyrsi, the nomadic Thracian-Scythian tribe, mated freely in order to 'foster sibling-like relationships and to eliminate jealousy and hatred.' According to Strabo, among the Siginni of the northwest Causasus the most accomplished women charioteers could 'co-habit with whomever they chose.' Strabo also described the sexual mores of the mountain tribes of Media (northwestern Iran): the men have up to five women and 'likewise the women believe it honorable to have as many men as possible and consider less than five a calamity.'"

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Besides being the favorite female subject on Greek vase paintings and murals, Amazon images could be found in intimate family settings. "Some of the most poignant and little-known ancient artifacts are dolls representing Amazons, discovered in the graves of young girls in Greece and Asia Minor. Had the little girls lived to be married, they would have dedicated these dolls to the goddess Artemis. Clay dolls in the Louvre and other collections are identified as Amazons by their pointed Scythian-style caps with lappets (earflaps), like the caps of many Amazons in Greek art, and by their armor and weapons."

Warrior Barbies, B.C.: who knew?

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Another fascinating, very 21st-century topic is the coverage given to tattoos depicted on Scythian, Thracian, and Amazon women. The author shows the similarity of their tattoos, weaving their larger cultural history together to bring us new insights. One example: the Athenians, who for centuries employed large numbers of Scythian slaves as archer-cops of their city and Thracian female slaves in their homes, considered tattoos a disgrace if you were Greek. Nevertheless, the tattoo designs worn by those slaves were faithfully copied by Greek artisans as they painted countless images of Amazons on vases, murals, and other decorated objects.

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Vicki Leon, author of over 35 nonfiction books on women's history, ancient history, and travel, along with pictorial books for younger readers on wildlife and earth's fragile habitats, lives on the California coast but often returns to her favorite (more...)
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