Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ashurnasirpal II

Figure 1 - Winged Genie with a Pine Cone
     Oddly enough, the Egyptian Museum in Munich also has a VERY small collection of Mesopotamian objects, including a glazed brick, striding lion from Babylon and several winged Genies from the palace of Ashunasirpal II at Nimrud.

     Ashurnasirpal, who reigned from 883 to 859 B. C.,  was the successor of Tumulti-Ninurta II and was in turn succeeded by Shalmaneser III.    

     Ashurnasirpal was one of the great conquerors of Assyrian history. He commemorated many of his victories with gory descriptions of mutilating the dead in any city that opposed him. He also boasted about burning the children in at least one of the cities he conquered.

Figure 2 - Another Winged Genie with a Pine Cone
     During his reign, the King moved the capital of Assyria to Nimrod and built a new palace there. The reliefs shown here are from that palace and show the winged Genies that are so often shown in Assyrian art. In figures 1 and 2 a winged genie carries a pine cone in one hand and a bucket(?) in the other. Possibly he is using the pine cone to get water from the bucket and sprinkle it as part of a purification ceremony.

Figure 3 - A Third Winged Genie from Ashurnasirpal's Palace
     In figure 3 we see a winged genie who has his right arm upraised (as a salute to the King??) and carries what might be some sort of multi-stemmed plant in his left hand. I have not been able to figure out the exact significance of this particular relief.

     In all three reliefs there are many similarities in the iconography of the figures. All three wear a helmet decorated with bull's horns. All three also have long, elaborately curled hair and the Assyrian "wrist watches" (actually some sort of bracelet) that occur so commonly on these figures. The arm and leg muscles are clearly indicated in the carvings and the feather of the wings are elaborately detailed by the sculptor(s).

Copyright (c) by John Freed

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