Various symbolic objects - Lamassu
Type of Spiritual Experience
A lamassu is an Assyrian protective deity, often depicted as having a human's head, a body of an ox or bull and bird's wings, sometimes with the horns and the ears of a bull. They bear considerable resemblance to centaurs.
The Assyrians typically prominently placed lamassu at the entrances of cities and palaces. From the front they appear to stand, and from the side, walk. Notable representations include those at the Gate of All Nations at Persepolis in Iran, the British Museum in London, the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Oriental Institute, Chicago.
The lamassu was considered a celestial being and appears frequently in Mesopotamian art. The lamassu and shedu were household protective spirits of the common Babylonian people, becoming associated later as royal protectors.
A human-headed winged bull known as a lamassu from Dur-Sharrukin. Neo-Assyrian Period, ca. 721–705 BC
A description of the experience
The Lammasu or Lumasi represent the zodiacs, parent-stars, or constellations. They are depicted as protective deities because they encompass all life within them. In the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh they are depicted as physical deities as well, which is where the Lammasu iconography originates, these deities could be microcosms of their microcosmic zodiac, parent-star, or constellation. Although "lamassu" had a different iconography and portrayal in Sumerian culture, the terms lamassu, alad, and shedu evolved throughout the Assyro-Akkadian culture from the Sumerian culture to denote the Assyrian-winged-man-bull symbol and statues during the Neo-Assyrian empire. Female lamassus were called "apsasû".
To protect houses, the lamassu were engraved in clay tablets, which were then buried under the door's threshold. They were often placed as a pair at the entrance of palaces. At the entrance of cities, they were sculpted in colossal size, and placed as a pair, one at each side of the door of the city, that generally had doors in the surrounding wall, each one looking towards one of the cardinal points.
The source of the experienceMesopotamian system
Concepts, symbols and science items
ConceptsSigns of the Zodiac
Activities and commonsteps
SuppressionsCreating a sacred geography