Terracotta plaque of a dragon
Babylonian, about 800-550
This clay plaque closely corresponds to the general image of the ushumgal, the 'snake-dragon' of Sumerian poetry. The ushumgal can be a metaphor for a god or king; and is not necessarily evil or unpleasant.
snake-dragon has horns, the body and neck of a snake, the forelegs
of a lion, and the hind legs of a bird. It is represented in art
from 2300 BC to the last centuries BC as a symbol of various gods
or as a magically protective hybrid. It has been identified as the
Akkadian mushhushshu or
'furious snake'. It is best known as the creature
Plaques such as these were mass produced in moulds. Many show scenes of private life as well as images of gods and their worship. They may have been intended for private veneration or entertainment.
J. Black and A. Green, Gods, demons and symbols of -1 (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)
J. Oates, Babylon-1 (London, Thames and Hudson, 1979)