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Home > Auctions > 21st February 2017 > Western Asiatic Neo-Assyrian Lamaštu Demon Amulet

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LOT 0580

GBP (£) 10,000 - 14,000
EUR (€) 11,840 - 16,570
USD ($) 12,770 - 17,870

1 1/2" (9.41 grams, 39mm).

A rectangular obsidian amuletic pendant, with rounded corners and a perforated flange for suspension, the obverse with an incised image of the demon Lamashtu with head of a bird facing right, striding right, with an elongated body, her arms raised in a threatening posture, a seated dog to lower right in profile with comb above; a piglet in profile to lower left with spindle above; an uncertain 'sideways-T' symbol at top left corner and donkey's ankle to top right; a line of cuneiform text below reading:

[t]u6. én é .nu. ru

Translating as: "Incantation"

The reverse with seven lines of cuneiform text, being a truncated version of "Lam." Inc. 11 and reading:

én é .nu. ru /
ͩ dì /
dumu /
bí.íb? / /
zi hé.p[à] (written over to end of next line) /
zi ki.a! .pà

The text translating as:

"Incantation, O Lamashtu, daughter of Anu, thou art great among the gods.
Be conjured by the heavens and be conjured by the earth".

Ex Milton Yondorf collection, Chicago, USA; acquired around 1938; thence by descent to John D. Yondorf Jr., Chicago, 1948.

Farber, W. Lamaštu: An Edition of the Canonical Series of Lamashtu Incantations and Rituals and Related Texts from the Second and First Millennia B.C., Winina Lake, Indiana, 2014, p.338, fig.22, (photographs by A. Ressman, Oriental Institute); accompanied by a copy of this published entry, with a second partial extract bearing manuscript ink and pencil notes on the transcription and translation of phrases. Accompanied by an Art Loss Register certificate.

In Mesopotamian mythology, Lamashtu was a female demon, monster, malevolent goddess or demigoddess who menaced women during childbirth and, if possible, kidnapped their children while they were breastfeeding. She would gnaw on their bones and suck their blood, as well as being charged with a number of other evil deeds. Lamashtu is depicted as a mythological hybrid, with a hairy body, a lioness' head with donkey's teeth and ears, long fingers and fingernails, and the feet of a bird with sharp talons. She is often shown standing or kneeling on a donkey, nursing a pig and a dog, and holding snakes. She thus bears some functions and resemblance to the Mesopotamian demon Lilith.
Lamashtu's father was the Sky God Anu. Unlike many other usual demonic figures and depictions in Mesopotamian lore, Lamashtu was said to act in malevolence of her own accord, rather than at the gods' instructions. Along with this her name was written together with the cuneiform determinative indicating deity. This means she was a goddess or a demigoddess in her own right. She bore seven names and was described as seven witches in incantations. Her evil deeds included: slaying children; causing harm to mothers and expectant mothers; eating men and drinking their blood; disturbing sleep; bringing nightmares; destroying crops; infesting rivers and lakes; and being a bringer of disease, sickness, and death.
Pazuzu, a god or demon, was invoked to protect birthing mothers and infants against Lamashtu's malevolence, usually on amulets, such as this one, and statues. Although Pazuzu was said to be bringer of famine and drought, he was also invoked against evil for protection, and against plague, but he was primarily and popularly invoked against his fierce, malicious rival Lamashtu.