Bearded Bull’s Head

Sumerian

2600-2450 BC

This powerful head cast of solid copper has a hollow in the back so that it could be attached to a larger object. The head is brought to life with inlaid eyes of lapis lazuli and shell. It was probably part of a copper relief or a three-dimensional figure that protected the façade or interior of an early temple. The bull’s massive head is emphasized by a stocky muzzle and shortened horns. The addition of a curled, wide beard looks curiously natural on an animal that symbolized the sky god An. As the embodiment of fertility and power, the bearded bull served as an ever-present symbol of divine protection and royal might through centuries of ancient Near Eastern art.

Source: Saint Louis Art Museum

Notes

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