Page last updated at 16:54 GMT, Thursday, 7 August 2008 17:54 UK

Vienna celebrates Venus centenary

Venus of Willendorf (file image)
The curves of the Venus of Willendorf have inspired many copies

Austrians are celebrating 100 years since the discovery of a tiny but curvy statuette that dates back 25,000 years.

The 11cm-tall (four-inch) stone figure - the Venus of Willendorf - will be in a special show at Vienna's Natural History Museum with similar statuettes.

Austria's post office is also to unveil a stamp in her honour on Friday, the Associated Press reports.

Fans can already buy chocolates, soap and sweets modelled on her famously voluptuous figure.

A very early representation of a female body, the statuette was found by archaeologists in the hamlet of Willendorf, by the Danube, in 1908.

Given to the Natural History Museum, she first went on public show in 1998. The display to mark the centenary of her discovery, opening on Saturday, will also feature figurines of women found in Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, the AP says.

The Venus of Willendorf, which was not made from local materials, dates back to the Paleolithic era, a time when woolly mammoth still roamed the area.

Walpurga Antl-Weiser, at the Natural History Museum, told the AP it was difficult to know what the statuette's makers intended her to represent - perhaps a fertility symbol or goddess - but she held a fascination for people.

"She's very corpulent but still very beautiful," she said. "One gets the feeling she has become an icon."

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