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Assyrian Relief: Winged Spirit or Apkallu Anointing Ashurnasirpal II from Kalhu (Nimrud), Iraq



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Assyrian Relief: Winged Spirit or Apkallu Anointing Ashurnasirpal II from Kalhu (Nimrud), Iraq
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1860.3
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Artist

Unknown Artist

Title

Assyrian Relief: Winged Spirit or Apkallu Anointing Ashurnasirpal II from Kalhu (Nimrud), Iraq

Creation Date

ca. 875–860 B.C.E.

Medium & Support

gypsum (Mosul alabaster)

Dimensions

65 11/16 in. x 78 1/8 in. x 6 3/8 in. (166.8 cm. x 198.5 cm. x 16.2 cm.)

Credit Line

Gift of Dr. Henri Byron Haskell, Medical School Class of 1855. Critical support for the Assyrian Collection at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art is provided by the Yadgar Family Endowment.

Accession Number

1860.3

Copyright

Public Domain

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This relief shows the king Ashurnasirpal with a protective spirit, or apkallu figure behind. The king wears the fez-and-tiara crown that signals his regal status. His robe is long and tasseled with daggers tucked into the folds. Holding a bow in his left hand Ashurnasirpal raises his right. The protective spirit behind wears a horned crown, short kilt, and sports wings that signal his divine status. He anoints the king with a “purifier,” as it is called in Assyrian texts, which extends a fertile gift to the Assyrian king. The ‘Standard Inscription’ of Ashurnasirpal, common to many of his reliefs, runs across the middle of the sculpture. It records the King’s titles, ancestry and achievements.

The condition of this relief is of special note. The king, in particular, has suffered very systematic mutilation. His right hand has been severed, his eyes, nose, and ears removed. The king’s beard has been carefully cut and his feet and Achilles’ tendons, surgically excised. Finally, the bow, symbol of Ashurnasirpal’s martial prowess, has been broken in the middle. On this defaced relief a ghostly silhouette appears opposite the king. Crudely rendered and executed with obvious haste, the new figure approaches the king as conqueror. The occasion of this disfiguring event was certainly the sack of Kalhu (Nimrud) by the Medes and Babylonians at the end of the 7th century B.C.E. The conquered had finally exacted revenge on the Assyrians.
 


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