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Work Monkey statuette

Department of Near Eastern Antiquities: Iran

Statuette of a monkey

© 2011 Musée du Louvre / Thierry Ollivier

Near Eastern Antiquities
Iran

Author(s):
Herbin Nancie

This little red limestone monkey dates from the late 3rd millennium BC. The animal appears to be an Asian macaque. Few depictions of it have been found at Susa. This statuette indicates the existence of commercial and cultural exchanges with the Indus Valley and Central Asia, where many representations of monkeys have been found.

A small monkey dating from the Bronze Age

This little red limestone monkey sitting on its hindquarters, with its back legs drawn up to its belly and its hands on its knees, was found at Susa and dates from the late 3rd millennium BC. It may depict a common Asian macaque. Its eyes are round and hollow, indicating that they may have been inlaid. The animal's tail forms a curved line at the back.

The monkey - an animal rarely depicted at Susa

This is one of the rare ancient representations of this animal found at Susa. Another monkey, already with an almost human air about it, was found in one of the two "Archaic depots" dating from the Uruk period, consisting in a group of small alabaster statuettes of praying figures and animals (birds, a bear, and a pig). These objects reflected the style of sculpture in this period in Mesopotamia. A number of copper cosmetic flasks from Bactria (present-day Afghanistan) dating from the late 3rd or early 2nd millennium BC also represent monkeys and mythical animals, half-monkey half-human. Depictions of monkeys squatting and sitting on stools like humans are also to be found on metal seals from the same region.

An animal perhaps from the Indus Valley

Rarely depicted in the Susian region, the monkey was a common motif in many areas of Eastern Asia (including the Indus civilization, notably in the Harappa region), and the Mediterranean Basin (in Egypt, for example). This monkey may be an indication of the relations maintained by Susa with the Indus Valley and the regions of Central Asia (Afghanistan).

Bibliography

The Royal city of Susa New-York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 16 novembre 1992 - 7 mars 1993, New-York, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992, p.97 ; ill.61.

Technical description

  • Statuette of a monkey

  • Red limestone

  • R. de Mecquenem excavations

    Sb 5884

  • Near Eastern Antiquities

    Richelieu wing
    Ground floor
    Iran and Susa during the 3rd millennium BC
    Room 8
    Display case 4: Exotic imports at Susa, 2600–1700 BC. Susa IVB (2340–2100 BC)

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Additional information about the work

Ekta Louvre/Oi-Chong Lee (Met., 1992)