Standing female figure with clasped hands


The dress and hairstyle of this female figure are similar to those of several other statues included in this section. Her eyes and eyebrows are emphasized by their large proportions and now-missing inlays. Traces of paint indicate that her hair was once a dark color. The sculptor took great care with the soft carving of her cheeks, details of her lips and toenails, tightly arranged curls of her hair, and fold of her left clasped hand. Her skirt is slightly shorter than other examples, accentuating the figure’s unshod feet.

Standing female figure with clasped hands
Mesopotamia, Sumerian, Tutub (modern Khafajah), “Sin” Temple IX
Early Dynastic IIIa period
(2600–2450 BC)
Gypsum and shell
The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, Excavated 1933/34; A12412

Courtesy of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago


Sidney Babcock: This statue of a female figure was a votive offering placed in a temple in present day Khafajah, which was once incorporated into the city-state Eshnunna. The temple may have been built in honor of Sin, the moon god. Several of these offerings portraying their dedicants were unearthed during excavations in the 1930s. Often, they are depicted with large eyes, accentuated eyebrows, and clasped hands. Set before the cult statue of a deity, these objects stood in place of the worshipers they portray, to pray in perpetuity long after the natural life of their dedicants. Here, this female figure placidly waits, standing with a careful and poised posture. Though certain decorative elements of this particular statue have not survived, the hollow areas of the once inlaid eyes and brows as well as the traces of pigment on her hair indicate that color was an integral part of these images. While they are still visually stunning today, it is fascinating to imagine how they may have looked as they were originally intended in antiquity and to ponder, for example, how paint would have affected the exquisite detail of this woman’s hairstyle.