Head of a Genie

Relief Showing the Head of a Winged Genius
Neo-Assyrian Period, reign of King Ashurnasirpal II (883 B.C.-859 B.C.E.)
From the Northwest Palace at Kalhu (Nimrud), Assyria (present–day Iraq)
Gypsum relief with traces of pigment, 68 x 59 x 4.5 cm (26 1/2 x 23 x 2 in.)
George F. Harding Collection, Art Institute of Chicago 1986.978
Photo © Joan Ann Lansberry

(From info card)

"This carving once decorated a reception room (room S) in the royal palace built by King Ashurnasirpal II in his new capital city on the banks of the Tigris River. The head highlighted above is a fragment from a full figure, one of many that lined the palace walls (see drawing of reconstruction).

"The three-horned cap and feathered wings identify the figure as a divine genius or magical protective spirit. The genius is distinguished by his elegant beard, elaborate jewelry, fringed cloak, and engraved designs imitating embroidery. The complete figure holds the cone-like flower of the date-palm and a bucket which may represent objects used in a purification ritual. This scene is also thought to illustrate a fertility ritual."