Dalley: Apkallu-3, IDD 2011
by Estéban Trujillo de Gutiérrez
Iconography of Deities and Demons (IDD).
Type 1 Human-figured Apkallu, Phenotypes.
“The human-figured sage (1* – 39*), sometimes called winged genie, should probably be identified with Akkadian ūmu–apkallu. If so, it is the only sage-figure that has a distinguishing term. Alternatively, ūmu-apkallu may be an extension of apkallu in which ūmu refers to Oannes, the first sage, as an ummiānum.
The human-figured Apkallu is always shown in profile, and is normally bearded. He often wears a headband decorated with rosettes, or a horned crown with one, two, or three pairs of horns; he wears light sandals or is barefoot.
Occasionally he is kneeling (7 , 19, 24–25, 33*–34). He usually has two wings on palace sculptures of Assurnasirpal II (883-859 BCE) (6*), two (37) or four (23) wings in the palace of Sargon II (721-705 BCE), and four wings in the time of Sennacherib (704-681 BCE) (22).
However, exceptions such as on 2 can be found, and there is probably flexibility in peripheral iconography or due to deliberate archaism.
On Khorsabad sculptures of the late 8th century (23), the four-winged man, holding a bucket and cone and wearing a crown with three pairs of horns, is probably a form of the same figure.
A beardless, perhaps female, two-winged form with bucket and cone is found on 8th century Carchemish sculpture fragments (30). It may be comparable to the two- or four-winged, perhaps female, figure in the palace of Assurnasirpal II, who holds a jeweled ring in the left hand, and wears a necklace and a crown with two pairs of horns (1* – 2).
Although the figure is almost certainly female, it has two daggers and a whetstone tucked into the waist on 1* – 2, implying perhaps ambiguity of gender (ALBENDA 1996). Beardless examples are quite common in 7th century Urartian art (24, 27–29).
The human-figured Apkallu is rarely associated with a deity (27).
In a few cases the human-figured Apkallu is associated with hybrid animals (24), as on the Hebrew seal 8* (if genuine), where a winged, man-faced bull Aladlammu (Human-headed winged bull) serves as a pedestal animal for a divine figure; and on 11, where an unbearded, human-faced winged lion sphinx supports the mirror-image pair of Apkallu.
If genuine, 9* is another West Semitic (or rather South Semitic) seal with this type of Apkallu standing alone.
Mirror-image pairs stand on each side of a stylized sacred tree (1*, 7, 13, 24, 29, 39* ), the tree sometimes surmounted by a winged disc (11–12*).
This scene is frequently attested on palace sculptures from the Northwest Palace of Assurnasirpal II (883-859 BCE) at Nimrud (6*; PALEY/SOBOLEWSKI 1987; 1991 passim). The scene is found in a location of high prestige, on a panel set behind the throne dais in the main throne room, where the king stands in mirror-image at the tree, and the winged disc is also shown.
Occasionally the winged disc is supported by a kneeling atlantid figure (14* ). Other variations include streams of water coming from the winged disc (14 *).
Mirror-image figures may also stand on either side of a doorway without a central motif such as a sacred tree. On the rare occasions when this type does not belong to a mirror-image arrangement, he may stand, for example, behind a man with a fly-whisk and bowl, facing the enthroned king (26).
The type occurs as a group of six or more clay figurines placed in brick boxes in foundations at Assur, Nimrud, and Nineveh (RITTIG 1977: passim).
Ritual texts show that figurines of this type were often made of e’ru wood (WIGGERMANN 1992: 65), and thus have not survived.”
Stephanie Dalley, “Apkallu,” Iconography of Deities and Demons in the Ancient Near East (IDD), Swiss National Science Foundation, University of Zurich, 2011 (text updated 2011 and illustrations updated 2007), p. 2-3/7.
“This ummiânū kneels before the sacred tree, apparently depicted in the act of tending to it.”
This is what I thought at first, but looking at various other reliefs this one arm up/one arm down posture is very common and may well just be an artistic convention.