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Mesopotamian Limestone Lioness Protome

$1,195.00
Ancient Near East, Mesopotamia, ca. late 3rd to 2nd millennium BCE. A carved protome in the form of a lioness, made from a beige limestone, with fine details. The mouth is full of convincingly pointy canines and teeth, with the tongue visible and arched as if the big feline's mouth is open in a roar. The nose is blunt, and the eyes set underneath a brow line; the ears are small nubs with shallow drilled holes giving them added realism. The head narrows to a neck that then widens into a roughly rectangular base for attaching the protome to something - probably an architectural feature, perhaps in a home or temple. Comes with custom stand. Size: 2.25" L x 1.8" W x 2.25" H (5.7 cm x 4.6 cm x 5.7 cm); height on stand: 3.75" (9.5 cm).

In ancient times, lions lived in northern Africa and, until the 20th century BCE, in the ancient Near East. The fact that fierce representations are often carved as lionesses, rather than male lions, suggests that Mesopotamian artists had knowledge of the real animal in the wild and knew its hunting habits. Lions are a common motif from this culture; for example, lions flank the gates through which the dead passed at the tomb of King Abargi in Ur, and decorated the private apartments of the Assyrian ruler Ashurbanipal at Kahlu (now at the British Museum). Lions were hunted for sport by the wealthy in this society, and their presence in Mesopotamian iconography is meant to celebrate both man's prowess over nature and the fierce, threatening power of the wild. The snarling face of this lioness seems to be emphasizing the latter.

Condition: Light surface wear, with many remaining details, especially around the mouth. Back was drilled by a previous owner for attachment to stand.

Provenance: Ex-Private East Coast, USA Collection

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