Philippe de Montebello (Director Emeritus) and Joan Aruz (Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art) discuss Striding horned demon (2007.280) (July 2008).
Striding horned demon, ca. 3000 b.c.
Mesopotamia or Iran
Arsenical copper; H. 6 7/8 in. (17.5 cm)
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 2007 (2007.280)
Few examples of early Mesopotamian sculpture can match this work in terms of significance and impeccable provenance. The sculpture is one of a pair of nearly identical solid-cast images of a demon wearing the upturned boots associated with highland regions, his power enhanced by the mighty horns of the ibex on his head and the body and wings of a bird of prey draped around his shoulders. It belongs to the period when the first cities in world history emerged in ancient Sumer, when a new world view conceived of human figures in realistic terms through accurate proportions and highly modeled forms. At that time, the blending of human and animal forms to visualize the supernatural world and perhaps to express shamanic beliefs is more characteristic of the contemporary arts of Proto-Elamite Iran, where a remarkable tradition of metalworking developed.