Dalley: Apkallu-5, IDD 2011
by Estéban Trujillo de Gutiérrez
Iconography of Deities and Demons (IDD).
Type 3 Bird-of-Prey-Headed Apkallu, Phenotypes.
“This hybrid sage (7, 21, 36*, 39*, 67–80), also called griffin-demon, Nisroch, or simply genie, is a human body with the head of a bird of prey (perhaps an eagle or a vulture).
It usually appears with one or two wings, each perhaps representing a pair of wings; but also with four (80). Like type 1, a pair of mirror-image figures is frequently shown, e.g., on 39*.
Some examples show the bird-of-prey-headed Apkallu with a long, high crest as on 76*, which has two ringlets falling on to the shoulder.
On other examples there are three curls on top of the head (71*–72, 74, 78*–79).
For jewelry the figure may wear a necklace with seven strands (76*), which may also only be single-stranded with pendants (7). Rosette bracelets are sometimes shown on each wrist (67).
The beak is usually closed, but occasionally open to show the tongue (74, 78*–79), as if emitting a cry (80 ). On Late Bronze/Early Iron Age seals the figure is often shown naked (33* – 34*, 47 – 48, 72, 74); at later periods the dress is similar to that of the anthropomorphic sage and the fish-cloak Apkallu on most examples, although the knees are entirely covered by the over-garment on 77.
The so-called “fish-tail fringe” dangling from the kilt (76* above) is not a fish part, and so does not indicate that the type is a fish composite. WIGGERMANN (1992: 75) considers that this type belongs to an Assyrian tradition, and regards all late 2nd millennium examples as Middle Assyrian.
Other deviations from the standard representation include the replacement of the cone in the right hand with a sprig as on 71*. The pose of having both hands raised without holding any object (77) is also unusual. The figure appears to pluck a bud or sprig from the sacred tree on 75*, 78*, and 79.
A pair of bird-of-prey-headed Apkallus often stands on each side of a sacred tree (7 ) or a royal figure (69 ), or with a plant (78*–79) or a deity (36*, 70 , 74 ), with six-curl heroes holding the sacred tree (71* ).
The figure occurs with type 1 on sequences with three registers at doorways (6*).
On 72 and 73 an altar is held up by a pair of naked Apkallus (in a very similar scene [MATTHEWS 1990: no. 452] a pair of mermen perform a similar function).
Assyrian ritual texts describe clay figurines of this type (WIGGERMANN 1992: passim) as foundation figurines buried in groups of seven or more, with black paint, traces of which have occasionally been observed on such clay figurines, including one with black and red stripes painted on the back.”
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. 3-4/7.