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Striding figure with ibex horns, a raptor skin draped around the shoulders, and upturned boots

ca. 3000 B.C.
Mesopotamia or Iran
Copper alloy
H. 17.5 cm (6 7/8 in.) W. 5.4 cm ( 2 1/8 in.)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 2007
Accession Number:
  • Description

    This solid-cast sculpture is one of a pair of nearly identical images of a hero or 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 was created at the time the first cities emerged in ancient Sumer. A new world view conceived of human figures in realistic terms, through accurate proportions and highly modeled forms with distinctive features - here, the triple belt and beard that define divine beings and royalty. The blending of human and animal forms to visualize the supernatural world and perhaps to express shamanistic beliefs, however, is more characteristic of the contemporary arts of Proto-Elamite Iran, where a remarkable tradition of metalworking developed during this period.

  • Provenance

    1950, purchased by Mrs. Paul Mallon from a private collection in Baghdad and acquired by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery the same year; acquired by the Museum in 2007, purchased from Sotheby's New York, at the auction "Highlights of historic objects offered by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York", on June 7, 2007, lot 80.

  • Exhibition History

    "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.

    "The Philippe de Montebello Years: Curators Celebrate Three Decades of Acquisitions," The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, October 24, 2008–February 1, 2009.

  • References

    Schenck, Edgar Craig. 1953. "Additions to the Permanent Collection. Two Near Eastern Figurines." The Buffalo Fine Arts Academy. Albright Art Gallery 17 (1), January 1953, pp. 2-5, pl. p. 10.

    Haskins, John F. 1957. "Shamanistic Figures from the Caucasus." Marsyas 7, pp. 40-52, figs. 3-4.

    Parrot, André. 1963. "Statuaire archaique iranienne." Syria 40, p. 235.

    Barnett, Richard D. 1966. "Homme masqué ou dieu-ibex?" Syria 43, pp. 259-276, pl. XXI.

    Nagel, Wolfram. 1966. "Frühe Grossplastik und die Hochkulturkunst am Erthaischen Meer." Berliner Jahrbuch 6, p. 46.

    Nagel, Wolfram. 1968. "Frühe Grossplastik und die Hochkulturkunst am Erthaischen Meer." Berliner Jahrbuch 8, p. 116, pl. XXVI.

    Börker-Klähn, Jutta. 1974. "Drei unveroffentliche Plastiken im Rijksmuseum van Oudheden zu Leiden." Oudheidkundige Mededelingen 55, p. 121, pl. 20.

    Porada, Edith. 1974. "Mesopotamia und Iran." Propyläen Kunstgeschichte 13. Berlin: Propyläen, p. 163, pl. XII.

    Nash, Steven A. et al. 1979. Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Painting and Sculpture from Antiquity to 1942. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, pp. 50-51.

    Spycket, Agnès. 1981. La statuaire du Proche-Orient ancien. Leiden, Köln: E.J. Brill, p. 49, note.

    Moorey, Peter R.S. 1982. "The Archaeological Evidence for Metallurgy and Related Technologies in Mesopotamia, c. 5500-2100 B.C." Iraq 44, p. 24.

    Porada, Edith. 1995. Man and images in the ancient Near East. Wakefield, RI and London: Moyer Bell, p. 35.

    Pittman, Holly. 2003. "Striding horned demons." 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. 15b, pp. 46-48.

    Sotheby's. 2007. Highlights of historic objects offered by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo. Spring 2007, New York, pp. 154-157.

    Sotheby's. 2007. Antiquities including property of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. June 7, 2007, New York, lot 80.

    Annual Report of the Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 137 (July 1, 2006 - June 30, 2007), p. 8.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History