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Figurine of a Sumerian in worship posture
Sumer (southern Iraq)
Early Dynastic period, c. 2600 BCE
Copper, cast
H 14 cm (5 1/2 in) W 5 cm (2 in)
Gift of P. Klutznick, New York
Accession number: 70.106.508

Figures of mortals in gestures of reverence or prayer were prominent in the visual art of ancient Mesopotamia. This worshipper stands with his hands clasped before his chest in a gesture of supplication typical of Sumerian sculptures of the mid-third millennium. Naked figures displaying this type of posture are sometimes regarded as representing priests. However, the priestly figures are usually shown bald, in contrast to this worshipper, whose hair falls down below his shoulders. The long beard reaching down to his chest is also unusual, since it parts into two sections at the bottom. Unlike most statues of this period, which are made of stone and tend to be somewhat geometrical and ponderous, this copper figurine is more refined and even naturalistic in expression, for example in the rendering of its slightly bent legs. It is similar to pieces found near the Diyala river, east of Baghdad, namely two statuettes from Tell Agrab and three figurines adorning offering stands from Khfaje. All five figurines were found in temples and it is therefore likely that this piece was also dedicated to the divine and was placed in a temple by an anonymous believer.


Digital presentation of this object was made possible by: The Ridgefield Foundation, New York, in memory of Henry J. and Erna D. Leir


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