Saluting Protective Spirit is a work of art that was done between 883-859 BC. It had been done with finite details being given to individual parts of its pictorial representation. The figure was created by making carvings on gypsum stone ( Reade, 1998). It is grey in colour and comprises of a man who is groomed ready for a particular occasion. This article will focus on the visual analysis of this work of art.
The picture depicts a figure of a mystical man with wings on his back. Most of the supernatural creatures that are commonly known to have wings are angels. The wings aid them in mobility and, therefore, this implies that they have higher power than the humans who do not have wings for movement. The creature shown in the picture has two wings for easy movement when protecting the buildings, palaces or temples ( Hart, 2012). The wings will help them to counteract and repel enemies. The creature is a stout built man, and his pose reveals the muscular definition of strong arms and legs, symbolizing the strength and power for protection and repelling evil. On most of the deities, large muscle mass was a symbol of power ( Reade, 1998).
This creature used to be called Apkallu in some areas. The man is wearing a tasselled skirt with a well sewn and decorated robe. The tassels and decorations symbolize royalty and wealth. Only wealthy people and mostly those who belonged to the royal family could afford this kind of garment ( Hart, 2012). The clothes signifies the manner in which people used to groom themselves during those ancient days ( Reade, 1998).
The creature in the picture has curly beard that runs down his chin, which is a distinctive feature of the people of this era. The long beard is a representation of his divinity. It was a common practice to find people who had divine authority wearing long beards. Also, most of the deities especially in Greece, Assyria and Egypt had long beards. The beard shows that the statute is that of an elderly man, who is entrusted with some responsibility in the community. Furthermore, the fact that the picture is a representation of a man signifies the role played by men in the society; which was to provide food and guarantee security for the family ( Hart, 2012). Therefore, this representation fits perfectly in its role.
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Something very peculiar is found in this picture. A standard inscription runs across the body displaying various designations of the king and his accomplishments during his reign in office. These inscriptions also appear on most of the other carvings of the king ( Reade, 1998). The inscriptions have been done so well that they appear alongside the dress.
A closer look at the dress reveals that some of the inscriptions must have been chiselled through. This implies that the carving must have been cut after the figure was engraved so that the decorations can be seen more vividly. The significance of the raised arm is not well known, although some scholars associate it with the protective power. It is a sign that sends peaceful message to people who are entering the building on which the picture is depicted and guarantees them their safety ( Hart, 2012). The creature is also holding a giant ear of corn with his left hand.
The supernatural creature wears a coronet on its head, which is well decorated. This signifies a symbol of royalty and power. The coronets were normally worn as jewelleries by members of the royal family. Flowers and twigs from plants have been used on the picture to show how man is attached to his environment. There are flowers on the coronet as decoration; also, the super man is holding a twig (that has flowers on it) with his right hand ( Reade, 1998).
Moreover, there is a flower inscribed on the raised right hand wrist. It is a representation of how the people of those days used to be close to the environment and how much they esteemed it ( Hart, 2012). Furthermore, the supernatural man is well poised ready for attack in case danger intrudes. If this picture is placed at the entrance, then the creature will be facing the outside, ready for attack. It is a clear indication of its readiness to protect those who are in the building.
The carving was placed at the entrance to the king Ashurnasirpal II who ruled between 883 and 859 BC. “Saluting protective spirit” got its title from the early practice of defending entrances of houses using magic. It was an ancient practice in Mesopotamia and among Assyrians. Perhaps it is ‘saluting’ because of having its hand raised in salutation position. The picture under consideration in this article is that of a supernatural creature with wings ( Reade, 1998).
These images used to be engraved under the entranceway to any established structure. They were also depicted at the doors of palaces and temples. Palaces were guarded with these protective spirits because that is where the king lived and, therefore, he needed to be free from evil spells ( Reade, 1998). On the other hand, they depicted on entrances of temples because the dorways were divine places where a serene atmosphere was supposed to be maintained, free of any kind of evil spirit.