Amulet depicting Lamashtu
Near Eastern, Mesopotamian, Assyrian
Object Place: Northwestern Iran
Height x width: 3.9 x 3 cm (1 9/16 x 1 3/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Ancient Near East Gallery (Gallery 110)
Polished black stone medicinal amulet incised with an image of the lion-headed, bird-clawed demon Lamashtu, filled with reddish-white paste. Such amulets as this were worn by pregnant women to protect them from the demon Lamashtu, who was believed to kill newborn infants and take them for herself. Expectant mothers bribed her away with small offerings of combs and fibulae (safety pins). These gifts and a clay image of Lamashtu were ritually set adrift in a model boat that, it was hoped, would take her back to the Netherworld. This amulet shows Lamashtu, pregnant herself and suckling a dog and a pig, sailing away on her boat and holding her new comb and fibula.
By 1985: Eshagh Sakhaei, Brighton, MA; 1985: purchased by the MFA from Mr. Sakhaei, 27 February 1985.
(Accession date: February 27, 1985)
Florence E. and Horace L. Mayer Fund