Walking slowly through the cool, dark room of Ancient Near Eastern art at the Museum of Fine Arts, visitors come across the superhuman-size, alabaster relief of an Assyrian winged deity. It is this striking deity that catches viewers' eyes easily with its intricacy and precision of pattern as well as its impressive size. A closer look at this grandiose work however, gives insight into a culture that was both innovative and customary.
[...] Taking a literal step backward, viewer of the Winged Protective Deity note the position in which the figure is standing. A rather rigid pose, with the right arm lifted upwards in the act of pollinating a flower or tree, the left arm rigidly held out in front of him, away from his body and grasping a bucket. The legs are seen in profile, and seem to be positioned directly behind one another due to lack of background and therefore, dimensionality. [...]
[...] The frontal view of the eye is a commonplace portrayal throughout Egyptian and Assyrian art and, mixed with the profile view of the rest of the body, render a composite view of this piece. Relief sculptures and paintings of the ancient Near East were often portrayed in this composite view because it allowed artists to show the most important parts of the body, that is those that were most functional for relaying information about the person or animal. The figure's stance also begs the question, what is this deity protecting? [...]
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