The Demon Pazuzu
Near Eastern (Assyrian)
replica: from the Louvre, Paris
gift of: the Nasser Family
date of the original: late 7th-8th century BC
provenance of the original: Mesopotamia; now in the Louvre, Paris
description: Demon with a double set of wings, head of a dragon/snake, body of a man with one upraised arm, scorpion’s tail and talons. Resin replica; bronze original. Height 18 cm, width 9 cm, depth 5 cm.
The demon Pazuzu was the Assyrian king of the demons of the wind. He was associated in particular with the southwest wind that brought droughts, famine and locusts. Although a demon, Pazuzu was a source of protection against the demoness Lamashtu (often depicted as his wife): he could drive her back to the underworld (see: "Hell" Plaque). Because Pazuzu could protect against Lamashtu, his image was often used on protective amulets or plaques. Pazuzu was depicted as a man with the head of a lion or dog, talons instead of feet, two pairs of wings, and the tail of a scorpion. His right hand is raised and his left hand is extended downwards: this position represents life/death and creation/destruction.
The original statuette has an inscription on the back (not present in this replica) stating “I am Pazuzu, son of Hanpa, king of the evil spirits of the air which issues violently from the mountains, causing much havoc.” The ring atop his head suggests that the piece was intended to be hung, perhaps in the room of an invalid.