Votives and Votive Figurines

ceramic votive figurine
Small votive figurine in the Upper Paleolithic Style. This one contains a small bowl like indentation which serves as a receptacle for a food, drink, or herbal offering. Artist: Frances Osborne

A votive  is offered, given, or dedicated in accordance with a vow. A vow is a solemn promise, an engagement solemnly entered into, an oath made to God, a promise to follow out some line of conduct or to devote yourself to some act or service.

What is the purpose of a votive figure? A votive figurine is a offering to a deity, an abstract representation. These statues embody the very essence of the worshiper so that the spirit would be present when the physical body was not. Votive figures were made as an act of worship to the gods and placed in a shrine before the image of the god.  For some people, the purpose of these votive figures was to offer constant prayers to the gods in behalf of the believer, so that the believer could go about his or her daily business and the votive figurine worked in their place.

A small earthenware votive figurine in the Upper Paleolithic Style. Artist: Frances Osborne.

For others, perhaps these figurines represented the spirit of the thing or deity. A deer figurine might house the spirit of deer and be prayed to for good hunting.  Some might be made in such a ways as to be a receptacle for a food, drink or incense offering.

A votive figure can serve as a focal point of your altar and your service to the divine spirit, the Universe or higher purpose (your ethics and morals, for example). They are reminders to you, a way of remembering to be be mindful of what is important in life.

“Potter’s Clay” by Faithbook for Him (source)

One piece at a time, the Potter uncovered the pieces of clay.
They were scattered on the ground from where He gently lifted them.
As He began to speak the designs that He would make,
The broken clay transformed into its new shape.

For more examples of little votive figurines, click here