Ancient Near East, Mesopotamia, Sumer, Jemdt Nasr Period, ca. 3100 to 2800 BCE. A smooth calcite amulet of a feline, posed dynamically as if caught in the act of running or jumping, with its head turned to face the viewer. It has wide, round eyes and its body has incised lines and circles on one side. A thick hole has been drilled through the center of the body, possibly so it could be sewed onto a cloth or kept on a string. Size: 1.75" L x 1.5" H (4.4 cm x 3.8 cm)
The Sumerians believed strongly in magic, and the magical powers of amulets, created to be deterrents against the Evil Eye. The oldest of these amulets are stone animal form ones like these. They were also fascinated by wild animals, and particularly dangerous and powerful ones, with horns, wings, and claws often emphasized. The lion was always a potent symbol, viewed as a protector and associated with royalty. Many of these amulets were engraved with protective motifs - like the circles on some of these - to bolster their magical prowess. These circles may be representative of the symbolic eyes common on Mesopotamian idols; we believe that wide open eyes are a sign of attentiveness to the gods.
Provenance: Ex-California Museum of Ancient Art,
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