King and Eunuch Attendant

Stone Relief of Ashurnasirpal II and his Attendant

Stone Relief of Ashurnasirpal II and his Attendant

This alabaster relief depicts the king Ashurnasirpal II and his Eunoch attendant who is serving him. The king is wearing his royal crown with his cap and long diadem. The bow is a symbol of his authority to wage war.

Louvre Excerpt

Relief: King and eunuch attendant, 883-859 BC; Neo-Assyrian period, reign of Ashurnasirpal II

Excavated at Nimrud (ancient Kalhu), northern Mesopotamia
Alabaster (gypsum); H. 92.3 in. (234.3 cm)
Gift of John D. Rockefeller Jr., 1932 (32.143.4)


"The palace rooms at Nimrud were decorated with large stone slabs carved in low relief, with brightly painted walls and ceilings and sculptural figures guarding the doorways. The throne room contained narrative scenes commemorating the military victories of Ashurnasirpal, while in other areas of the palace were protective figures and images of the king and his retinue performing ritual acts.
On this relief slab the king Ashurnasirpal II wears the royal crown, a conical cap with a small peak and a long diadem. He holds a bow, a symbol of his authority, and a ceremonial bowl. Facing him, a eunuch, the "beardless one," carries a fly whisk and a ladle for replenishing the royal vessel. The peaceful, perhaps religious, character of the scene is reflected in the dignified composure of the figures" - MET

"In the year that Tartan came unto Ashdod, (when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him,) and fought against Ashdod, and took it;" - Isaiah 20:1

Assyrian King and Eunuch Attendant Close Up
Close up

Copyright 2001 The Metropolitan Museum of Art - MET

From British Museum

Stone panels from the North-West Palace of Ashurnasirpal II (Room G, nos. 2-3)

Nimrud (ancient Kalhu), northern Iraq
Neo-Assyrian, 883-859 BC

The King enthroned between attendants

These panel may have come from a banqueting hall at the palace of King Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 BC). The relief carving is particularly fine, with very delicate incisions on the clothes indicating embroidery. Large areas of the surface would originally have been highlighted in paint, traces of which survive on the sandals. Unlike many of the reliefs from Ashurnasirpal's palace, this series of panels was not divided into distinct registers. Nonetheless, the 'standard inscription', repeated on many of Ashurnasirpal's monuments, is inscribed across the middle. It records his titles, ancestry and achievements.

An Assyrian king is almost always identifiable by his crown: a fez with a pointed top, surrounded by a diadem with two strips, possibly of cloth, hanging behind and down his back.

Behind the king an attendant holds a fly-whisk and the king's weapons. Since he is beardless the figure may be identified either as a young man or possibly a eunuch. Eunuchs are mentioned in ancient texts and were often employed at court. Being castrated they were unable to raise a family to rival that of the king. Attendants are usually depicted bareheaded as here, though they are sometimes shown wearing headbands.

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The Art of Ancient Egypt, Revised by Robins, 272 Pages, Pub. 2008


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