Human-Headed Winged Lion

Mesopotamia, Neo-Assyrian, Nimrud, 883-859 B.C. Limestone. In the palace of Ashurnasirpal ll, pairs of human-headed lions and bulls decorated the gateways and supported the arches above them. This lion creature wears the horned cap of divinity and a belt signifying his superhuman power. The Neo-Assyrian sculptor gave these guardian figures five legs. Viewed from the front, the animal stands firmly in place; from the side he appears to stride forward. During the ninth century B.C. the great Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II built a new capital at Nimrud, where the palace was decorated with large stone slabs ornamented with low-relief carvings and with sculpted figures guarding the doorways. Gift of John D. Rockefeller Jr., 1932. Text and Images coutesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art.