The lamassu is a mythical creature with the body of a lion or bull, the wings of a bird, and the head of a human. It is often depicted as a protective deity in ancient Mesopotamian art and mythology. The lamassu is associated with the Assyrian and Babylonian civilizations and is typically portrayed as a guardian at the entrances of palaces and temples.
The winged bull, specifically, is a variation of the lamassu that has the body of a bull. These colossal statues served a dual purpose in ancient Mesopotamian culture. On one hand, they were symbols of divine protection, representing the power and might of the gods. On the other hand, they served a practical function as guardian figures, deterring evil spirits and potential enemies from entering sacred or important spaces.
One of the most famous examples of the lamassu is the human-headed winged bull from the Assyrian city of Dur-Sharrukin ("Fortress of Sargon"), which is now housed in the University of Chicago, ISAC Museum. We worked closely with the museum to create a small pendant sized reproduction of this impressive statue. In addition our reproductions are especially relevant now as a lamassu sculpture has been recently unearthed in Iraq (November 2023).