Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Details in Assyrian Carving

Figure 2 - face of a winged bull of Ashurnasirpal
     One of the the things that I enjoy when I visit a collection of Assyrian art is the detail work that goes into the monumental carvings that decorated royal palaces. For instance, take a look at figure 1, which is the face of one of the winged bulls from the palace of Ashurnasirpal in the Metropolitan Museum. Look carefully at the facial hair. The beard is shown tightly curled at the chin, but has a different style below that. Also, notice how the mustache is curled at the end and how some of the hair is wrapped around the rest of the mustache to help it hold its style. Also, note the lock of hair peeking out below the figures helmet.

     In figure 2, we see a "winged genie" (for the lack of a better term to describe him). The photo here does not show the details of the feathers as clearly as I would like. Trust me, the details of the feathers are delicately carved and well worth a closer look.

Figure 2 - a winged genie carved with beautiful details in the beard and feathers
     Also in figure 2, notice how the genie's beard is also tightly curled at the chin, then styled differently for most of its length, although there are three more places where the hairs of the beard are tightly curled. It must have been a nightmare for Assyrian men to properly style their beards, assuming that Assyrian men really wore their them this way. Also note the how the hair that hangs down behind the neck is styled.


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