Collection online

statue

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    118871

  • Description

    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 that 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.

    More 

  • Authority

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 883BC-859BC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 113 centimetres (statue)
    • Width: 32 centimetres (statue)
    • Depth: 15 centimetres (statue)
    • Height: 77.5 centimetres (base)
    • Width: 56.5 centimetres (base)
    • Depth: 37 centimetres (base)
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        inscription
      • Inscription Script

        cuneiform
      • Inscription Position

        chest
      • Inscription Comment

        Eight lines of text recording the king's name and titles, and stating that he had conquered all the region from the Tigris to Mount Lebanon and the Great Sea (i.e. the Mediterranean).
  • 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.

    Bibliography:
    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)

    More 

  • Bibliography

    • Strommenger 1970a 13-14, pl. I bibliographic details
    • Fontan E ed 1994a p. 139 bibliographic details
    • Curtis & Reade 1995a p. 43, no. 1 bibliographic details
    • Budge & King 1902a p.161 f. bibliographic details
    • Grayson, ARI 2 p.196 bibliographic details
    • Reade 1998b p.22, fig.12 bibliographic details
    • Layard A H 1853a p.361 bibliographic details
    • Paley S M 1976a pl. 17c bibliographic details
    • Budge E A W 1914 pl. I bibliographic details
    • British Museum 2011a pp.90-91, cat.59 bibliographic details
    • Grayson, RIMA 2 RIM.A.0.101.39 bibliographic details
    • Layard A H 1849a vol.II, p.52 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:

    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

  • Condition

    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.

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Associated places

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1851

  • 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.

  • Department

    Middle East

  • BM/Big number

    118871

  • Registration number

    1851,0902.507

  • Additional IDs

    • NG.89 (ex Nimrud Gallery)
Carved magnesite statue of Ashurnasirpal II on reddish stone stand: the king stands bare-headed, without the royal crown. His hair is long, but his long and magnificent curled beard is more imposing that 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 th eleft 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.

Carved magnesite statue of Ashurnasirpal II on reddish stone stand: the king stands bare-headed, without the royal crown. His hair is long, but his long and magnificent curled beard is more imposing that 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 th eleft 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.

Image description

Recommend


Feedback

If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: collectiondatabase@britishmuseum.org 

View open data for this object with SPARQL endpoint

Object reference number: WCO23912

British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.

View this object

Support the Museum:
donate online

The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.

About the database

The British Museum collection database is a work in progress. New records, updates and images are added every week.

More about the database 

Supporters

Work on this database is supported by a range of sponsors, donors and volunteers.

More about supporters and how you
can help  

Loading...