Quimbaya birth sculpture – La maternidad

Although Visualizing Birth has not been able to ascertain the exact origins of this image and scant information exists on it online, several websites indicate that the object dates to 500-1500 CE in the context of the pre-Columbian Quimbaya culture. The Quimbaya, located in the present day South American country of Colombia, refers to indigenous groups that flourished especially during the 4th-7th centuries CE. The goldsmith work and statuary became an important part of Quimbaya culture.

In this image, the viewer witnesses a birth scene where an attendant catches the infant of a reclining woman in labor.  The woman appears calm as the baby’s head emerges, her own head back while she places a hand on the side of her belly. Her knees bend, adding strength to her feet which press into the earth as she gives birth. Kneeling over the mother, the birth attendant concentrates on supporting both mother and baby.

The image brings calmness and strength to the viewer, reminding those who are pregnant that birth can occur uninterrupted and peacefully. Although squatting or side-lying may be preferable, some women choose to give birth in the reclining position. Pressing feet into the ground can help bring strength to the birthing process when reclined.