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Work Figurine of a god, known as the "god with the golden hand"

Department of Near Eastern Antiquities: Iran

Figurine of a god, called "The God with the Golden Hand"

© Musée du Louvre/Oi-Cheong Lee

Near Eastern Antiquities
Iran

Author(s):
PK

This figurine of a god is one of the rare specimens of Susian statuary from the early 2nd millennium BC. Originally entirely plated with gold, the God with the golden hand wears the kaunakes and horned headdress of the Mesopotamian gods in the Akkadian period (2340-2200 BC). Certain stylistic details are local characteristics, however.

A unidentified god

We can be sure that this figure represents a god, for he wears a horned headdress and the kaunakes, the long fleecy garment traditionally worn by gods since the Akkadian period (2340-2200 BC). However, the absence of any attribute or inscription prevents his identification. He may represent Inshushinak, lord of Susa, the city where the figurine was found.

A plating technique that failed the test of time

This copper statuette, probably made using the lost-wax casting method, was originally entirely covered in gold. The use of this material indicates the degree of richness the commissioner of the work wished to impart to the image of the god. However, the plating technique, using a groove that is still visible on the left side of the garment, proved ineffective over time; the gold leaf has remained intact on the figure's left hand only, having disappeared from the rest of the body.

A sculpture in the Mesopotamian tradition executed in the local style

The god is shown with the traditional features of the Mesopotamian gods. He wears the long kaunakes robe leaving the right shoulder bare, and the headdress with four rows of horns worn by the major divinities. His hair is gathered in a chignon at the back of his head and held in place with a band visible on his forehead. His long beard is made up of vertical curly locks.
However, a number of details reflect a local originality of style in relation to the sculptures of Mesopotamia. The artist opted for a formalized stiffness, a simplification in the treatment of the details- for example, the upper part of the beard remains smooth - and a stylization of the features, particularly the smile. The horned headdress with its wide base is set on a large flat beret protruding over the forehead, a headdress worn in Susa in the early 2nd millennium BC. It has been found on Susian terracotta figurines dating from this period. The headdress itself, composed of superposed rows of horns forming a little pyramid, resembles the horned tiaras of the Neo-Sumerian period in the late 3rd millennium, when Susa was under Mesopotamian rule.

Bibliography

Amiet Pierre, Élam, Auvers-sur-Oise, Archée, 1966, p. 313, n 234.
Tallon Françoise, Métallurgie susienne, vol. 1 et 2, Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, coll. "Notes et documents des musées de France", n 15, 1987, p. 310, n 1337.
Caubet Annie (sous la dir. de), La Cité royale de Suse : trésors du Proche-Orient ancien au Louvre, Exposition, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 17 novembre 1992-7 mars 1993, Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1994, p. 94, n 58.

Technical description

  • Figurine of a god, called "The God with the Golden Hand"

    Early 2nd millennium BC

    Provenance unknown

  • Bronze, gold

  • Sb 2823

  • Near Eastern Antiquities

    Richelieu wing
    Ground floor
    Iran and Bactria
    Room 9
    Display case 4: Susa V: Neo-Sumerian period, Shimashki and Sukkalmah Dynasties

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