- Museum number
Carved magnesite statue of Ashurnasirpal II on reddish dolomite stand: the king stands bare-headed, without the royal crown. His hair is long, but his long and magnificent curled beard is more imposing than that which a courtier would have worn. The king's dress consists of a short-sleeved tunic on top of which a long fringed shawl has been fastened, covering most of his body below the waist; the shawl is drawn over the left arm, round the back, and then forwards over the right shoulder, to be secured to the belt in front. In his right hand he carries a ceremonial sickle of a kind which gods sometimes use for fighting monsters; the mace in his left hand symbolises the authority vested in him as vice-regent of the supreme god. An inscription is carved on his chest.
- Production date
Height: 77.50 centimetres (base)
Height: 113 centimetres (statue)
Width: 56.50 centimetres (base)
Width: 32 centimetres (statue)
Depth: 37 centimetres (base)
Depth: 15 centimetres (statue)
- Inscription subject
- Curator's comments
- This is the only extant perfect Assyrian royal statue in the round. This statue of King Ashurnasirpal II was placed in the Temple of Ishtar Sharrat-niphi. It was designed to remind the goddess Ishtar of the king's piety. It is made of magnesite, and stands on a separate reddish dolomite or dolomitic limestone plinth. These unusual stones were probably brought back from a foreign campaign. Kings often boasted of the exotic things they acquired from abroad, not only raw materials and finished goods but also plants and animals. The king's hair and beard are shown worn long in the fashion of the Assyrian court at this time. It has been suggested that the Assyrians used false hair and beards, as the Egyptians sometimes did, but there is no evidence for this.
A. H. Layard, ‘A Second Series of the Monuments of Nineveh’ (London, 1853), pl. 52;
Moulded as a commercially available cast (listed in the BM Facsimile Service, Catalogue of Replicas)
- Bibliographic references
Fontan E ed 1994a / De Khorsabad a Paris: La decouverte des Assyriens (p. 139)
Curtis & Reade 1995a / Art and empire: treasures from Assyria in the British Museum (p. 43, no. 1)
Grayson, ARI 2 / Assyrian Royal Inscriptions (p.196)
Reade 1998b / Assyrian Sculpture (p.22, fig.12)
Layard A H 1853a / Discoveries in the ruins of Nineveh and Babylon, with travels in Armenia, Kurdistan and the desert (p.361)
Budge 1914 / Assyrian Sculptures in the British Museum, Reign of Ashur-nasir-pal, 885-890 B.C (pl. I)
Layard A H 1849a / The monuments of Nineveh, from drawings made on the spot (vol.II, p.52)
Budge & King 1902a / Annals of the kings of Assyria (p.161 f.)
Grayson, RIMA 2 / Assyrian Rulers of the Early First Millennium BC, I (1114-859 BC) (RIM.A.0.101.39)
Paley S M 1976a / King of the World: Ashur-nasir-pal II of Assyria 883-859 B.C. (pl. 17c)
Strommenger 1970a / Die neuassyrische Rundskulptur (13-14, pl. I)
British Museum 2011a / Splendours of Mesopotamia (pp.90-91, cat.59)
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2014 22 Sep - 2015 5 Jan, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 'Assyria to Iberia at the Dawn of the Classical Age'
2013 22 June - 2014 6 Jan, Toronto, Royal Ontario Museum, 'Mesopotamia, Inventing Our World'
2013 30 Jan-13 May, Museum of History, Hong Kong, 'The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia'
2012 4 May-7 Oct, Melbourne Museum, 'The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia'
2011 28 March-26 June, Abu Dhabi, Manarat Al Saadiyat, 'Splendours of Mesopotamia'
2008 21 Sept-2009 4 Jan, Boston, MFA, 'Art and Empire'
2007 2 Apr-30 Sept, Alicante, MARQ Museum, 'Art and Empire'
2006 1 Jul-7 Oct, Shanghai Museum, 'Art and Empire'
2006 18 Mar-4 Jun, Beijing, Capital Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures'
2005 27 Oct-2006 31 Jan, Haengso Museum, Keimyung University, Daegu, Treasures of the World's Cultures
2005 25 Jul-8 Oct, Busan Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
2005 11 Apr-10 Jul, Seoul Arts Centre, Treasures of the World's Cultures
2004 26 Jun-29 Aug, Niigata Bandaijima Art Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
2004 10 Apr-13 Jun, Fukuoka Art Museum, 'Treasures of the World's Cultures'
2004 17 Jan-28 Mar, Kobe City Museum, 'Treasures of the World's Cultures'
2003 18 Oct-14 Dec, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, 'Treasures of the World's Cultures
1993 18 Nov-1994 15 Jan, France, Paris, Musée du Louvre, '150 ème Anniversaire de la Decouverte des Assyriens'
1991 9 Mar-7 May, Japan, Osaka, National Museum of Art, 'Treasures of the British Museum', cat. no.37
1991 5 Jan-20 Feb, Japan, Yamaguchi, Prefectural Museum of Art, 'Treasures of the British Museum', cat. no.37
1990 20 Oct-9 Dec, Japan, Tokyo, Setagaya Art Museum, 'Treasures of the British Museum', cat. no.37
1990 28 Jun-23 Sep, Australia, Melbourne, Museum of Victoria, 'Civilization: Ancient Treasures from the British Museum', cat no.9
1990 24 Mar-10 Jun, Australia, Canberra, National Gallery of Australia, 'Civilization: Ancient Treasures from the British Museum', cat no.9
- Base and statue in two parts; numerous fissures near the base of the statue and a modern dowelled repair in the same area. Numerous old repairs to the base.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Found by Layard May 1850; despatched from the site June 1850; shipped from Basra March 1851 in the 'Fortitude'; arrived London August 1851.
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: NG.89 (ex Nimrud Gallery)