I drew this while waiting for Curiosity to land on Mars. I think that's cool.
I think I've mentioned the lamassu before, but in case I haven't, it's the quintessential symbol of Assyrian might. They flanked gates of important cities like Nineveh, facing outward. Gustave Doré, who is one of my favorite artists, sneaked a lamassu into his illustrations of Jonah thus
. But wait just a minute, you might be saying: damn it, Eyeteeth, that divine winged bull-man has five legs! Game over! And you're right, it does have five legs, because I am committed to accuracy in Assyrian sculpture rendition. The lamassi were sculpted with five legs so that from the side they appear to be striding and from the front they appear to be standing. You can see how this trick works here
, on the Met's website. As you can see, lamassi can also have the feet of lions. The Assyrians had a real thing for lions; hunting them was a favorite Assyrian hobby. Only the most violent diversions would do for these guys -- and only the lion was a worthy adversary. Guys who play soccer with human heads do not scare easily.
Bonus lion art from Mesopotamia: this lioness
remains defiant and majestic even as her body bristles with arrows. I think I sense the admiration the artist had for this mighty foe, right up to her dying moment. Happier for the lioness is this
amazing ivory carving, called "The Lioness and the African." The man's surrender to the death-grip of the lioness is so complete that the image is more erotic than violent. Look closely, and you'll see that she has one of her forelegs wrapped around him. Hot, sexy death: it's what life in Mesopotamia was all about!