Praying Sumerian man

Praying Sumerian manPraying Sumerian man

This limestone statuette represents a man praying, possibly a priest. His head is shaven and his torso nude. His hands are folded in front of his body, his open right hand enclosing his clenched left fist, his right thumb placed behind his left. It is a praying gesture typical of the time.

The statue

The man is dressed in a long skirt, reaching to his ankles. Its upper part is smooth, the lower part consisting of two fringed layers tapering to a point. Possibly, it is a stylized rendering of a woolly sheepskin. However, it may also be a rendering of a specific manner of weaving.

Inlaid eyes

The facial features are very expressive, the large eyes being especially striking. The latter are characteristic of early Sumerian sculpture. They are inlaid with a fragment of a shell or a piece of ostrich eggshell. The pupil consists of a drilled hole, which was filled up originally. The inlay of the eyes and eyebrows was affixed by means of bitumen (natural tar). In ancient Mesopotamia this was used as an adhesive and as a filler. The most important bitumen pits are still in use to this very day. They are situated along the Euphrates, in the vicinity of the town of Hit, some 150 km north-west of Baghdad.

Object: Statue
Dating from: 2500 B.C.
Material: Limestone 
Size: 32 x 9.5 cm
Origin: Iraq; Chafadje
Collection: Near East
Code: B 1940/5.1