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Home > Auctions > 25th February 2016 > Western Asiatic Sumerian Figurine

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LOT 1495

GBP (£) 8,000 - 12,000
EUR (€) 9,470 - 14,210
USD ($) 10,210 - 15,320

2600-2400 BC
4 3/4" (209 grams, 12cm).

A gypsum statuette of a male or female worshipper with eyes inlaid with shell and black limestone, standing, nude from the waist up and wearing a woollen skirt, hands clasped at the chest in prayer and with a small chair behind; accompanied by an old scholarly note, typed and signed by W.G Lambert, late Professor of Assyriology, University of Birmingham, 1970-1993, which states: "The figure is apparently female and clothed from the waist to the ankles, where there is a deep fringe. The head lacks any hair, and the face looks upwards with big eyes inlaid with three different materials to represent the human eyes. The hands are clasped over the waist. The feet show at the front the back is a necessary support for the weight of the whole body. The back also shows the block on which the statuette sits, which does not appear at the front. This is a statuette in the Sumerian tradition, but from central Mesopotamia. It dates to c. 2600-2400 BC and is in very good state of preservation. Such statuettes are rare." Accompanied by photocopy of previous Bosgirard auction catalogue listing and French export certificate.

Property of a London gentleman; previously with Bosgirard Auction, Hotel Drouot, Paris, 17 December 2008, lot 21; from an important collection formed before 1980.

Accompanied by an Art Loss Register certificate.

Life in the cities of Mesopotamia was focused on the gods, who were believed to dwell in specially constructed temples. However, judging from the few excavated examples, these buildings appear not to have been congregational in nature. Access to the small central shrines was probably limited, most likely to the priests who served the god's needs. It was perhaps due to this lack of access that the elite commissioned images of themselves to be carried into the god's presence. These statues embodied the very essence of the worshipper so that the spirit would be present when the physical body was not. Quite how, or indeed if, the statues were presented to the god is unknown, as none have been discovered in situ but rather found buried in groups under the temple floor, or built into cultic installations such as altars, or scattered in pieces in the shrine and surrounding rooms.