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Hygieia

From the Collection of Royal Australasian College of Surgeons 250-290 Spring Street East Melbourne Victoria

Description

A beautiful wooden statue representing Hygieia, the Greek goddess of health.The figure is highly polished, which brings out the intricate grain of the timber. In it, the sculptor has endeavoured to combine the qualities of a classical pose with a contemporary yet timeless surreal sensuality. It will stand on a stone pedestal about 90cm high, and be placed in a prominent location in the Melbourne headquarters.
The College’s statue is semi-abstract in style, carved from a single piece of jarrah. The piece of timber from which it is fashioned was salvaged from the remains of a century-old shearing shed on Rifle Downs, at Darkan in the south-west of Western Australia.



Size
It stands 98cm high and is about 25cm across at its maximum width.
Object Registration
2004AW001
Historical information
Hygieia (Ύγεια, lit., “healing”) probably began as an abstraction, which later became personified. She does not appear to be a deity of extremely ancient origin, and there has been much scholarly debate as to exactly where and when worship of her first developed. Her cult most likely arose in the territory of Sikyon, where she was worshipped along with Asklepios, the legendary god of medicine. In later times Hygieia came to be regarded as the daughter of Asklepios, although her cult was not introduced to Epidauros, his principal sanctuary, until at least the 4th century BC. The earliest large-scale devotion to her is found in the aftermath of the Plague of Athens (420BC).
The cult of Hygieia was taken to Rome, along with that of Asklepios (Æsculapius), in 293BC, to avert a pestilence. Here she gradually became integrated with the old Italian god Salus. Towards the end of the pagan era both Hygieia and Asklepios lost their specific associations with medicine, and became general protective deities.
When Made
2004
Last updated
1 Apr 2019 at 2:17PM