A new exhibition will be opening in May at the British Museum that explores female spiritual beings in world belief and mythological traditions around the globe.
The exhibition will be bringing together over 70 ancient sculptures, artefacts and contemporary art from six continents to explore the diversity of ways in which femininity has been perceived across the globe, from the ancient world to today. It’ll explore the embodiment of feminine power in deities, goddesses, demons, saints and other spiritual beings, associated with diverse areas of human experience, from wisdom, passion and nature, to war, mercy and justice.
Objects from cultures across the globe will be displayed together for the first time including painted scrolls from Tibet, Roman sculpture, intricate personal amulets from Egypt, vibrant Japanese prints and Indian relief carvings alongside contemporary sculptures.
Since the late first millennium AD, Lilith has been known within Jewish demonology as the first wife of Adam and the consort of Satan. Her origins are thought to lie in Mesopotamian demons. The exhibition will include a ceramic incantation bowl from 500-800 AD Iraq, featuring a rare early image of Lilith in female form. Buried upside down under the thresholds of houses these bowls were inscribed with charms to protect the named patrons from demonic forces and regularly name Lilith; sometimes as grammatically singular and feminine, but also masculine or plural.
Through material culture, this exhibition aims to explore how the representation of feminine power in world belief and mythology has played – and continues to play – an important role in shaping global cultural attitudes towards women and gender identity.