An eagle-headed, winged divinity stands facing a tree of life (the ends of the branches are visible at the right edge). The figure was a small section of the wall decoration in the state apartments of the royal palace at Nimrud in northern Iraq, built by Ashurnasirpal II, king of Assyria. The deity holds a bucket in one hand and in the other a spathe (leaf-like sheath for the flowers) of the date palm. He is tending the tree, a symbol of vegetal life and fertility. He, and many more like him—original brightly highlighted with black, white, red, and blue paint—formed the ornamentation around a room near the throne room thought to have served as a place of ritual bathing. The motif stresses the political and religious importance of nurturing both the kingship and the land for the prosperity of Assyria.
Artist Assyrian, Mesopotamian
  • Eagle-Headed Winged Genius
Date 883 - 859 BCE
Medium gypsum alabaster
Dimensions Overall: 39 3/4 × 25 × 3 inches (101 × 63.5 × 7.6 cm)
Overall (irregular rectangle, bottom): 22 1/2 inches (57.2 cm)
Credit Line Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Leslie H. Green
Accession Number 47.181
Department Ancient Near Eastern Art
On View Ancient Middle East Gallery, Level 1 (see map)
Seymour Family (Wiltshire, England).
(Spink and Sons Ltd. [est. 1666], London, England);
Leslie H. Green;
1947-present, gift to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Bulletin of the DIA 27, no. 2 (1948): pp. 39-42 (ill.).

Stearns, J. B. Reliefs from the Palace of Ashurnasipal II. 1961, p. 55, (ill.).

"Family Art Game: Curator's Choice," Detroit Free Press (April 1, 1988): p. 11 (ill.). [DIA Advertising Supplement].

Henshaw, Julia P., ed. A Visitors Guide: The Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1995, p. 97 (ill.).