Sunday, August 4, 2019

Assyrian Art Essay -- essays research papers

Assyrian Art The reliefs from the palace of King Assurnasirpal II at Nimrud play an important role in portraying the power and importance of the Assyrian king. These reliefs are similar to other Assyrian reliefs in terms of their purpose; however, there is a contrast in the methods used to glorify the king. By examining such factors as style, iconography and historical significance, we find many similarities and differences between the "ceremonial" reliefs and the more common reliefs depicting war and hunting. The reliefs belonging to the sacred or"ceremonial" category consist of panels depicting a sacred tree, a human headed genius fertilizing a sacred tree, a griffin fertilizing a sacred tree, and a scene of King Assurnasirpal (whose name comes from the god "Assur") followed by a winged genius. Dating to about 870 B.C., these reliefs were originally located in the antechamber to the royal throne hall and in the living room where it would have been viewed by distinguished guests. Because of their location and larger than life size, the reliefs "...instill in the beholder a sense of awe and reverence for the king...." (Art History Anthology 28). Moreover, the reliefs overwhelm the viewer by depicting the king's power and god-like divinity through propagandistic iconography and stylization. To portray the king's god-like divinity, the reliefs represent the deities and Assurnasirpal in a similar manner. First of all, hierarchic scale is almost absent since all the figures are closely related in size, with Assurnasirpal being only slightly shorter than the deities. In historical context, this shows that Assyrian kings were closely associated with deities, but were not considered gods themselves. This lack of hierarchic scale is also seen in the Lion Hunt of Assurbanipal, where king Assurbanipal is shown slightly larger than his servants. Secondly, the deities and Assurnasirpal are similar in stance and stylization. All the figures have their head and legs shown in profile, while the torso is shown halfway frontal. In addition, the figures maintain a stiff vertical stance with their arms extended in either straight lines or are stiffly bent into a ninety-degree angle. In the third panel, both a winged deity and Assurnasirpal are depicted facing towards the right with their left feet forward; however, in contrast, the human headed genius and the griffin ... ...a symmetrical manner with intertwining branches, stylized leaves, and a fan of leaves above the trunk. The winged geniuses are fertilizing the sacred tree with a date blossom in their right hand and holding a sacred bucket in their left. In addition, panel three shows a winged deity following Assurnasirpal with his right hand raised over the king "in a gesture of benediction and divine protection" (Art History Anthology 28). By placing these reliefs in his antechamber and living room, Assurnasirpal "emphasizes the sacred character of the Assyrian king, elected by the gods, although not himself of divine substance" (Frankfort 87). In conclusion, we find that the reliefs from the palace of King Assurnasirpal II play an important role in exhibiting the power and importance of the king. While an Assyrian king's power can be depicted is a war-like manner by his military might, we learn that"ceremonial" reliefs are also effective by placing the king in relation to gods. The power and importance of the king is shown through a peaceful manner that highly contrasts the scenes of death and fighting found in such reliefs as the lion hunt of Assurbanipal and the battle scene of Assurnasirpal.

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