ASSYRIAN PLAQUE WITH COURTIER
Measurements: 10.3 cm – height, 5 cm – width
Description: An Assyrian moulded clay rectangular plaque depicting a male figure in low relief, walking right and wearing a short skirt and hat. The back is unworked. His eyes, nose and mouth have been finely incised. In his left hand he holds a bucket, the Assyrian banduddu, and in his right he holds a male date spathe, the mullilu, used by Mesopotamian farmers to artificially fertilise female date-palm trees. In a religious or regal context, this scene may be a symbolic representation of purification or protection: perhaps this figure accompanied a king, whom he would sprinkle to purify him. The cone was supposed to hold and dispense water from the bucket. Figures of this type have been interpreted as sages, or apkallus in Akkadian, and are associated with the god Enki. In Assyrian exorcism rituals the exorcist would imitate the god Marduk who, on the advice of Ea, took water from the "mouth of the twin rivers", cast his spell over it and sprinkled it over a sick man with the mullilu and banduddu.
Provenance: Ex German collection; acquired on the German art market before 1990.
Reference: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Further reading: Wiggermann, F. A. M., 1992, Mesopotamian Protective Spirits: The Ritual Texts, p. 66.
Period: 10th – 7th century BC
Condition: Very fine, with chipping and minor abrasions over the whole.