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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
ancient erotica, Sheela na Gig, corbel, blemmyes

Baubo is an old woman in Greek mythology who jested with Demeter when she was mourning the loss of her daughter Persephone.

In his Greek Myths, Robert Graves writes that Demeter (in disguise) was the guest of King Celeus in Eleusis. The lame daughter of the King, Iambe, "tried to console Demeter with comically lascivious verses, and a dry nurse, old Baubo, persuaded her to drink barley-water by a jest: she groaned as if in great travail and, unexpectedly, produced from beneath her skirt Demeter's own son Iacchus, who leapt into his mother's arms and kissed her." Graves writes, "Iambe and Baubo personify the obscene songs, in iambic metre, which were sung to relieve emotional tension at the Eleusinian Mysteries; but Iambe, Demeter, and Baubo form the familiar triad of maiden, nymph, and crone. Old nurses in Greek myth nearly always stand for the goddess as crone."

The following excerpt is taken from Clement of Alexandria's Exhortation to the Greeks

"Baubo, having received Demeter as a guest, offers her a draught of wine and meal. She declines to take it, being unwilling to drink on account of her mourning. Baubo is deeply hurt, thinking she has been slighted, and thereupon uncovers her secret parts and exhibits them to the goddess. Demeter is pleased at the sight, and now at least receives the draught, – delighted by the spectacle! These are the secret mysteries of the Athenians! These are also the subjects of Orpheus’ poems. I will quote you the very lines of Orpheus, in order that you may have the originator of the mysteries as witness of their shamelessness:"

"This said, she drew aside her robes, and showed a sight of shame; child Iacchus was there, and laughing, plunged his hand below her breasts. Then smiled the goddess, in her heart she smiled, and drank the draught from out the glancing cup."

Baubo figurines

Figurines[1] known as Baubos are found in a number of settings usually with Greek connections. Mass produced, they came in a number of styles but the basic figure always exposed the vulva in some way.

  • A plump figure with her legs held apart gesturing to her exposed vulva.
  • A naked splay-legged figure holding a harp on the back of a boar.
  • A naked headless torso with the face in the body and the vulva in the chin of the face.
  • A seated figure with an exaggerated vulva filling the space between the legs

The figures usually had elaborate headdresses and some hold cups or harps. Some figures have a suspension loop moulded into the head which seems to indicate that they were suspended in some way possibly as some sort of amulet.


  • Margaret Murray. "Female Fertility Figures" Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute Vol. LXIV 1934
  • Lubell, Winifred Milius. "The Metamorphosis of Baubo." Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1994

The following two books are mostly about medieval sexual sculpture but both have sections on Baubo

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Baubo" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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