Fragment of a Wall Relief: Head of a Winged Protective Spirit

Unidentified Artist883 BCE - 859 BCE

Harvard Art Museums

Harvard Art Museums
Cambridge, United States

Representing the head of a winged genie, or protective spirit, this relief fragment was part of the wall decoration of the throne room of King Ashurnasirpal II's Northwest Palace at Nimrud (ancient Kalhu) in Iraq. Placed to the right of the throne base, the genie - wearing the horned cap of a deity - was probably performing a ritual. It was one of several representations of genies intended to ensure the protection of this important room. Across the genie's body ran Ashurnasirpal II's "standard inscription" giving the titles and the achievements of the Assyrian king. Hunt and battle scenes carved on the long walls of the room conveyed a similar message. The appearance of these reliefs was originally enhanced by paint. This particular fragment was presented by Sir Austen Henry Layard, the excavator of Nimrud, to his cousin, Lady Charlotte Guest, in 1848.


  • Title: Fragment of a Wall Relief: Head of a Winged Protective Spirit
  • Creator: Unidentified Artist
  • Date: 883 BCE - 859 BCE
  • Technique: Relief
  • Physical Dimensions: w50.5 x h65.5 x d10.0 cm
  • Period: Neo-Assyrian period
  • Credit Line: Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Mrs. Percival Lombard, Mrs. John Bartol, Miss Dorothy Bartol, Mr. and Mrs. Frederick R. Grace, and the Alpheus Hyatt Purchasing Fund
  • Creation Place: Assyria/Asia/Ancient & Byzantine World
  • Type: Sculpture
  • External Link: Harvard Art Museums
  • Medium: Alabaster

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