Bronze head of Pazuzu


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

Pazuzu was an Assyrian and Babylonian demonic god of the first millennium BC. He normally has a dog-like face like here, and where his body is depicted he has a scaly torso, a snake-headed penis, the talons of a bird and usually wings. He is often regarded as an evil underworld demon, but he seems also to have played a beneficent role as a protector against disease-bearing winds (especially the west wind). He was closely associated with the demoness Lamashtu who stole babies from their mother's womb or when newly born. Pazuzu acted to counter her evil: he forced her back to the underworld. Amulets of Pazuzu like this were therefore placed in dwellings, attached to bedroom furniture. Smaller versions were hung around the necks of pregnant women.

Pazuzu's most recent appearance is as the demon who possesses Regan in The Exorcist (1973) a film directed by William Friedkin. The film opens in northern Iraq where we meet Father Lankester Merrin (Max Von Sydow) at an archaeological dig. He discovers an ancient statue of Pazuzu...


  • Title: Bronze head of Pazuzu
  • Date Created: -800/-500
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: cast
  • Subject: devil/demon
  • Registration number: N.275
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Nimrud
  • Period/culture: Neo-Assyrian
  • Material: copper alloy
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Excavated by Layard, Austen Henry

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