Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Standing male worshiper

Period:
Early Dynastic I-II
Date:
ca. 2900–2600 B.C.
Geography:
Mesopotamia, Eshnunna (modern Tell Asmar)
Culture:
Sumerian
Medium:
Gypsum alabaster, shell, black limestone, bitumen
Dimensions:
11 5/8 x 5 1/8 x 3 7/8 in. (29.5 x 12.9 x 10 cm)
Classification:
Stone-Sculpture
Credit Line:
Fletcher Fund, 1940
Accession Number:
40.156
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 403
In Mesopotamia gods were thought to be physically present in the materials and experiences of daily life. Enlil, considered the most powerful Mesopotamian god during most of the third millennium B.C., was a "raging storm" or "wild bull," while the goddess Inanna reappeared in different guises as the morning and evening star. Deities literally inhabited their cult statues after they had been animated by the proper rituals, and fragments of worn statues were preserved within the walls of the temple.

This standing figure, with clasped hands and a wide-eyed gaze, is a worshiper. It was placed in the "Square Temple" at Tell Asmar, perhaps dedicated to the god Abu, in order to pray perpetually on behalf of the person it represented. For humans equally were considered to be physically present in their statues. Similar statues were sometimes inscribed with the names of rulers and their families.
1933-1934, excavated by Henri Frankfort on behalf of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago; ceded to the Oriental Institute in the division of finds; acquired by the Museum in 1940, through an exchange of objects with the Oriental Institute.

“Art Treasures of the Metropolitan: A Selection from the European and Asiatic Collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, November 7, 1952–September 7, 1953.

“Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries: The Metropolitan Museum of Art,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, November 14, 1970–June 1, 1971.

“Al-Hiba: Expedition into the Past.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, November 16, 1972–January 21, 1973.

“The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Selections from the Collection of the Ancient Near East Department,” MOA Museum of Art, Atami, Japan, The Aiche Prefectural Art Gallery, Nagoya, Japan, The Seibu Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan, 1983.

"Art of the First Cities: The Third Millennium B.C. from the Mediterranean to the Indus," The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, May 8–August 17, 2003.

“From Ancient to Modern: Archaeology and Aesthetics,” Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York, February 12, 2015–June 7, 2015.

Frankfort, Henri. 1939. Sculpture of the third millennium B.C. from Tell Asmar and Khafajah. Oriental Institute Publications 44. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, no. 9, pp. 3, 20-21, 24, 56, pls. 18-20, 24A.

Dimand, Maurice S. 1945. "A Sumerian Sculpture of the Third Millennium B.C." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 3 (10), pp. 253-266.

Delougaz, Pinhas, and Seton Lloyd. 1942. Pre-Sargonid Temples in the Diyala Region. Oriental Institute Publications 58. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, pp. 189-190.

Wilkinson, Charles K. 1949. "The Art of the Ancient Near East." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 7 (7), pp. 189, 192.

Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1952. Art Treasures of the Metropolitan. New York: H.N. Abrams, p. 21, no. 6 (ill.), p. 217, no. 6.

Moscati, Sabatino. 1960. The Face of the Ancient Orient: A Panorama of Near Eastern Civilizations in Pre-Classical Times. Chicago: Quadrangle Books, p. 53, pl. III.

Beck, Martinus A. 1962. Atlas of Mesopotamia. London and Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd., no. 111, p. 58.

Glubok, Shirley. 1963. The Art of Lands in the Bible. New York: Atheneum, p. 5.

Watts, Edith Whitney. 1965. Archaeology: Exploring the Past, exh. cat. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 22.

Crawford, Vaughn E. et al. 1966. Guide to the Ancient Near East Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 8, fig. 6.

Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1970. Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries, exh. cat. New York: Dutton, no. 4, p. 78.

Rousseau, Theodore. 1970. "Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 29 (3), p. 137.

Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1972. Guide to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 1, p. 43.

Müller-Karpe, Hermann. 1974. Handbuch der Vorgeschichte: Kupferzeit, Vol. III. Munich: Beck, pl. 215, no. 9.

Liebling, Roslyn. 1978. Time Line of Culture in the Nile Valley and its Relationship to Other World Cultures. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Hibbard, Howard. 1980. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: Harper and Row, fig. 104, pp. 50, 52, 53.

Detroit Institute of Arts. 1982. Gudea of Lagash, exh. cat. Detroit: Detroit Institute of Arts, p. 2, fig. 3.

Imai, Ayako. 1983. "Standing Male Figure." In The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Selections from the Collection of the Ancient Near East Department, exh. cat. Tokyo: Chunichi Shimbun, no. 2.

Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1983. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide, edited by Kathleen Howard. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 51, fig. 14.

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Harper, Prudence O. et al. 1984. "Ancient Near Eastern Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 41 (4), Spring 1984, p. 22, fig. 21.

Evans, Jean M. 2003. "Standing male figures with clasped hands." In Art of the First Cities: The Third Millennium B.C. from the Mediterranean to the Indus, exh. cat. edited by Joan Aruz, with Ronald Wallenfels. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 24a, pp. 59-61.

Benzel, Kim, Sarah B. Graff, Yelena Rakic, and Edith W. Watts. 2010. Art of the Ancient Near East: A Resource for Educators. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, image 5, pp. 60-61.

Evans, Jean M. 2012. The Lives of Sumerian Sculpture: An Archaeology of the Early Dynastic Temple. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 47-48, figs. 15-16.
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