Relief of Maliku

Near Eastern (Palmyrene)

replica: by artist Carrie Allen

gift of: the Nasser Family

date of the original: 200-250 AD (Roman Period) 

provenance of the original: Palmyra (Tudmur), Syria; now in the Louvre, Paris

description: Reclining man holding a small vessel; his wife sits to the side. Inscription at top. Plaster replica; limestone original. Height 52 cm, width 45 cm, depth 4 cm.

This funerary stele depicts a man named Maliku, accompanied by his wife, Hadira, attending a banquet. It was custom in the Greco-Roman world to recline at banquets, and in Palmyra it became common to represent the practice on funerary steles. The faces of the deceased were always shown straight-on to the viewer, the eyes enlarged with incised pupils, sometimes highlighted with color.

Maliku is clothed in the Parthian tradition of caravan traders, with an embroidered tunic, embroidered baggy trousers, and a cloak held with a fibula at the shoulder. Hadira is adorned with jewelry reflecting the prosperity of her husband. Although she occupies an honoured position beside Maliku, even reaching the same height as her reclining husband, her lower status is indicated by the fact that she is seated at his feet. The inscription is in Palmyrene (an Aramaic dialect) and reads “Image of Maliku, son of Hagegu, son of Maliku, priest of the temple precinct, alas! and Hadira his wife.”

(See also: Relief of Aththaia; Semitic Gods.)