Elamite Terracotta Plaque of Goddess Ishtar


A finely modelled ancient Elamite terracotta plaque of a fertility goddess, depicted in her most iconic representation. The goddess is characteristically portrayed facing frontally, standing in a solemn pose and gazing forward. She is presented with her arms raised to her chest, holding her breasts with her hands. Upon her head she wears an elaborate headdress that has a protruding globular ornament at its centre, with horizontal modellings that imitate the fabric elements of her turban. She is richly jewelled; an exaggerated necklace with a round pendant naturally resting on her chest. Her enlarged pubic triangle is further adorned with numerous swirling incisions that slightly rise from the surface. Her fleshy body is conveyed by her slender waist and distended, plump thighs; characteristic features of Elamite nude fertility goddess plaques. The reverse of the plaque is un-modelled and plain.


Date: Circa 1500-1155 BC
Provenance: Acquired before the early 1970s. Ex London, UK, gallery, once belonged to the private collection of a London gentleman.
Condition: Very fine condition, some professional repairs. This object is accompanied with a TL test by Oxford Authentication, with the unique TL number of N122f93


In the middle of the second millennium BC, the state of Elam, achieved much progress in political and military power, to form a unique artistic style that is distinctively their own. Terracotta plaques and figurines, depicting nude fertility goddesses, were invented during the periods of the Isin-Larsa and Babylonian Dynasties. Old Babylonian terracotta plaques of fertility goddesses had a great aesthetic impact on the peripheral regions. Elamite parallels, depicting nude fertility goddesses, might have owed their existences to the Old Babylonian inspirations of the goddess Inanna. Different from the traditional Mesopotamian examples, Elamite images are characterised by detailed depictions of jewels and the exaggerated sensual female body outline. Inanna, also known as Ishtar in ancient Akkadian, was the most important female deity in Mesopotamia throughout the second millennium BC. She was identified with the planet Venus and with the sunrise, in addition to being recognised as the goddess of both sexual love and warfare within the ancient Near Eastern religious realm.

Weight 108.9 g
Dimensions W 6.2 x H 16.3 cm
Pottery and Porcelain


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