Assyrian Relief: WInged Spirit of Apkallu from Kalhu (Nimrud), Iraq; Northwest Palace, Room S, panel 17
ca. 875–860 B.C.E.
9th century BC
90 9/16 in. x 58 3/4 in. x 6 7/16 in. (230 cm. x 149.3 cm. x 16.3 cm.)
Ancient Near East, Assyrian
Medium and Support
gypsum (Mosul alabaster)
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.
This winged figure is often connected to the apkallu spirit mentioned in Assyrian texts as imbued with magical and protective powers. They likely had a variety of roles in Assyrian religion including those connected to wisdom and fertility. The apkallu’s horned crown announces his divinity, though his portrait bears an uncanny resemblance to Ashurnasirpal. Tucked into the folds of his tasseled kilt and embroidered robe are two daggers and a whetstone for sharpening the blades. Armlets and rosette-bracelets wrap around the figure’s arms and wrists. Remnants of color, red-brown, black and white, that once adorned the sculpture is visible on the apkallu’s eye and the soles of his sandals. Shipping the reliefs was a monumental ordeal—the stone slabs weigh around a ton each—and to facilitate transport the slabs were often cut in pieces and their backs trimmed to save weight. The reliefs destined for American collections were moved by camel back to the Mediterranean coast, where they often encountered substantial delays before being shipped by steamer vessels to American ports.
Critical support for the Assyrian Collection at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art is provided by the Yadgar Family Endowment.
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