Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

Handles of three Daggers carried in the

eight feet high ; the relief very low, and the ornaments rich and elaborate. The bracelets, armlets, and weapons were all

adorned with the heads of horses bulls, and rams, the style of which would not have been unworthy of the exquisite chasing of the middle ages; color still remained on the hair, beard, and sandals.

The adjoining slab, forming a wall at right angles with these bas-reliefs, was of enormous dimensions, but had been broken in two: the upper part had fallen, the lower was still stand

ing in its place. It was only Girdle. (N.W Palace, Nimroud.) after many ineffectual attempts that I succeeded in raising the fallen half sufficiently to see the sculpture upon it. It was a winged giant about sixteen and a half feet high in low relief, carrying the fir-cone and square utensil ; in other respects similar to those already described, except that it had four wings, two rising from each shoulder, and almost completely encircling the figure.

On the opposite side of the entrance, were also a vizir and his attendant; but they were followed by figures, differing altogether in dress from those previously discovered, and apparently representing people of another race; some carrying presents or offerings, consisting of armlets, bracelets, and earrings on trays; others elevating their clenched hands, probably in token of submission. They were evidently captives and tribute-bearers from a conquered nation ushered into the presence of the monarch by his minister. Amongst the objects of tribute were two monkeys, held by ropes ; one raising itself on its hind legs, the other sitting on the shoulders of its keeper. * The costume of these figures consisted of high boots

* This bas-relief is in the British Museum.

turned up at the toes, resembling those still in use in Turkey and Persia; conical caps, apparently formed by bands, or folds of felt or linen; and loose shirts descending to the ankles, ornamented down the centre and at the bottom with fringes. The figure with the monkeys was clothed in a short tunic, scarcely reaching to the calf of the leg, and his hair was simply bound up by a fillet. There were traces of black paint on his face, but it is probable that it had been washed down from the hair, as no remains of color have been found on the face of any other figure, although it is possible that the Assyrians, like the Egyptians, may have denoted races, sexes, and the orders of the priesthood by various tints. To the south of the colossal lions forming the principal entrance * to the great hall, the wall was continued by an eagleheaded figure resembling that on the opposite side. Adjoining it was a corner-stone bearing the sacred tree—beyond, the slabs ceased altogether; but I soon found that they had only fallen from their places, and that although broken, the sculptures upon them representing battles, sieges, and other historical subjects, were, as far as it could be ascertained by the examination of one or two, in admirable preservation. The wall of sun-dried bricks, against which they had stood, was still distinctly visible to the height of twelve or fourteen feet. This wall served as my guide in digging onwards, to the distance of about one hundred feet. The first sculpture discovered still standing in its original position, was a winged human-headed bull of yellow limestone. On the previous day we had found the detached human head now in the British Museum. The bull, to which it belonged, and which had formed one side of an entrance, had been broken into several pieces by falling against the opposite sculpture. I lifted the body with difficulty; and discovered under it sixteen copper lions, of admirable execution, forming a regular series, diminishing in size from the largest, which was above one foot in length, to the smallest, which scarcely exceeded an inch. A ring attached to the back of each, gave them the appearance of weights. In the same place were the fragments of an earthen vase, on which were represented two figures, with the wings and claws of a bird, the breasts of a woman, and the tail of a scorpion.*

* Entrance a, chamber B, plan 2.

* All these remains are now in the British Museum.

[merged small][graphic]

Beyond the winged bulls the slabs were still upright and entire. On the first was sculptured a winged human figure carrying a branch with five flowers in the raised right hand, and the usual square vessel in the left. Around his temples was a fillet adorned with three rosettes. On each of the four following slabs were two bas-reliefs, divided by the usual inscription. The upper, on the first slab, represented a castle apparently built on an island in a river. One tower was defended by an armed man, on two others were females. Three warriors, probably escaping from the enemy, were swimming across the stream; two of them supporting themselves on inflated skins, in the mode practised to this day by the Arabs inhabiting the banks of the rivers of Assyria and Mesopotamia; except that, in the bas-relief, the swimmers were pictured as retaining in their mouths the aperture through which the skin is filled with air. The third, pierced by the arrows of two warriors kneeling on the shore, was struggling without any support against the current. Three rudely designed trees completed the back-ground. The upper compartment of the next slab represented the siege of a city, in which the king, followed by his shield-bearer and attendants, was seen discharging an arrow against the enemy. A battering ram of wicker-work, on wheels, and attached to a moveable tower, occupied by two warriors, had been drawn up to the walls, from which several stones had already been dislodged. The besieged, apparently anticipating the fall of their city, were asking for quarter. Beneath the two bas-reliefs just described was one subject. The king, followed by his eunuchs and by his chariot, from which he had dismounted, was receiving a line of prisoners brought before him by his vizir. Some bore objects of spoil or tribute, such as vases, shawls, and elephants’ tusks; others were bound together by ropes, and were driven forward by Assyrian warriors with drawn swords. The upper compartments of the third and fourth slabs contained hunting scenes. The king was represented discharging an arrow against a lion springing upon his chariot, whilst a second, already pierced by many shafts, had fallen beneath the feet of the horses. Two warriors, with drawn swords appeared to be running to the assistance of the monarch. This bas-relief, from the knowledge of art displayed in the treatment and composition, the correct and effective delineation of the men and animals, and the spirit of the grouping, is one of the finest specimens yet discovered of Assyrian sculpture. The rage of the fallen animal, who is struggling to extricate the arrow from his neck, is admirably portrayed; whilst the majesty and power conveyed in the form of the springing lion is worthy of a very high order of art. In the other bas-relief the king in his chariot was seen piercing a wild bull with a short sword; a second bull wounded by arrows being beneath the

Battering Ram with moveable Tower containing Warriors, (N. W. Palace, Nirnroud.)

[graphic]
« ElőzőTovább »