Statue of standing male figure

Sculpture in the round of a standing human figure, of translucent travertine. The eyes are modeled realistically; the ears lie flat against the head, with detailed interior. The mouth is modelled with moustache and beard composed of regular rows of perforation. Nearly aquiline nose, straight and modelled. Both arms of figure are bent at right angles at elbows. Right forearm missing, left forearm complete with fist clenched. Cylindrical drilled perforation pierced through clenched left fist, indicates an instrument once rested in gripping fist; the fingers are schematically modelled on left hand.

The figure wears a long robe, which extends below the knees. Two breast-like protrusions are sculpted on the chest. Hips and buttocks schematically rendered on back of figure. Legs and feet schematically modelled. The lower legs are conical and taper towards ankles. All ten toes are separated by grooved lines. The figure stands on a rectangular base carved with smooth faces out of the same stone. Front of base carved with ancient South Arabian (Himyaridic or Sayhadic) inscription.

The figure is in excellent condition, with few minor scrapes and abrasions. The head of the statue appears to have broken off and been glued back together as there is an orange vein of either adhesive or natural mineral in the rock which separates the neck from the torso. Surface of this bonding area is smoothed over, and front soiling is not present around fracture, indicating the extra adhesive was sanded off after initial rejoining. It is not clear whether this restoration was completed in antiquity or in modern times.

Historical period(s)
Kingdom of Qataban, ca. 1st century BCE
Medium
Calcite travertine
Dimensions
H x W x D: 41.2 x 14.8 x 10.8 cm (16 1/4 x 5 13/16 x 4 1/4 in)
Geography
Yemen
Credit Line
Gift of Joseph H. Hirshhorn to the Smithsonian Institution
Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
S1986.513
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Sculpture, Stone
Type

Statue

Keywords
Kingdom of Qataban (ca. 500 BCE - 100 CE), man, WWII-era provenance, Yemen
Provenance

To 1965
André Emmerich Gallery, New York. [1]

From 1965 to 1966
Joseph H. Hirshhorn (1899-1981), purchased from André Emmerich Gallery, New York. [2]

From 1966 to 1986
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, gift of Joseph H. Hirshhorn. [3]

From 1986
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, transferred from Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC [4]

Notes:

[1] See document from the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, object file, Collections Management Office.

[2] See note 1.

[3] See note 1.

[4] See note 1. See also object file, Collections Management Office.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
André Emmerich Gallery
Joseph H. Hirshhorn

Description

Sculpture in the round of a standing human figure, of translucent travertine. The eyes are modeled realistically; the ears lie flat against the head, with detailed interior. The mouth is modelled with moustache and beard composed of regular rows of perforation. Nearly aquiline nose, straight and modelled. Both arms of figure are bent at right angles at elbows. Right forearm missing, left forearm complete with fist clenched. Cylindrical drilled perforation pierced through clenched left fist, indicates an instrument once rested in gripping fist; the fingers are schematically modelled on left hand.

The figure wears a long robe, which extends below the knees. Two breast-like protrusions are sculpted on the chest. Hips and buttocks schematically rendered on back of figure. Legs and feet schematically modelled. The lower legs are conical and taper towards ankles. All ten toes are separated by grooved lines. The figure stands on a rectangular base carved with smooth faces out of the same stone. Front of base carved with ancient South Arabian (Himyaridic or Sayhadic) inscription.

The figure is in excellent condition, with few minor scrapes and abrasions. The head of the statue appears to have broken off and been glued back together as there is an orange vein of either adhesive or natural mineral in the rock which separates the neck from the torso. Surface of this bonding area is smoothed over, and front soiling is not present around fracture, indicating the extra adhesive was sanded off after initial rejoining. It is not clear whether this restoration was completed in antiquity or in modern times.

Label

A number of similar statues have been excavated at Timna', the ancient capital of the kingdom of Qatab¯an (ca. 500-100 B.C.E.), located in what is now Yemen at the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula.  The inscription on the front of the statue base, written in ancient South Arabian script, gives the personal name of the figure depicted.  Funerary monuments like this one commemorated the deceased, whose name was often carved at the base of the statue.

Qatab¯an was one of several kingdoms that prospered in antiquity as they gained control over the caravan trade routes across the Arabian peninsula. Frankincense and myrrh, prized products of the southern peninsula, were transported along the trade routes to Mediterranean markets. 

Published References
  • Ray L. Cleveland. An Ancient South Arabian Necropolis: Objects from the Second Campaign (1951) in the Timna' Cemetery. Publications of the American Foundation for the Study of Man, vol. 4 Baltimore. .
  • Paolo M. Costa. Pre-Islamic Antiquities in the Yemen National Museum. Rome. .
  • Leon Legrain. Archaeological Notes in the Land of the Queen of Sheba. vol. 38, no. 3 Boston, July - September 1934. .
  • Jacqueline Pirenne. Notes d'archeologie sud-Arabe. vol. XXXVIII. .
  • Carlo Conti Rossini. Dalle Rovine di Ausan. pp. 727-754.
Collection Area(s)
Ancient Near Eastern Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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