Dia al-Azzawi, Blessed Tigris, fibre-glass sculpture

Work created in AD 2006

This sculpture has been specially created for the exhibition Word into Art (18 May - 3 September 2006) with the support of a sponsor. It will be displayed in the British Museum's Great Court. It is made from fibre glass and is six metres tall. Its shape echoes that of the ninth-century minaret found in the ancient city of Samarra, on the east bank of the Tigris River in Iraq.

The sculpture is inscribed with a poem by the celebrated Iraqi poet Muhammad Mahdi al-Jawahiri, who died 1997. The poem is called 'O blessed Tigris', and was written in 1962:

'I greet you from afar, O greet me back,
O blessed Tigris, river of gardens green.
I greet your banks, seeking to quench my thirst,
Like doves between water and clay aflutter seen.
O blessed Tigris, oft have I been forced to leave
To drink from springs which didn't my thirst relieve.
O blessed Tigris, what inflames your heart
Inflames me and what grieves you makes me grieve.
O wanderer, play with a gentle touch;
Caress the lute softly and sing again,
That you may soothe a volcano seething with rage
And pacify a heart burning with pain.'
(Translated by Hussein Hadawi)

Dia al-Azzawi studied first archaeology and then fine arts in Baghdad. His work includes paintings, prints, drawings and books as well as sculpture. As a prominent Iraqi artist now living in London, he plays an important role in the promotion of Iraqi and Arab art to wider audiences.

Find in the collection online

More information


V. Porter, Word into art: Artists of the (London, British Museum Press, 2006)


Height: 6.000 m
Diameter: 1.200 m

Museum number

On loan from a private collection .


Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore