Iraqi ancient winged bull resurrected on London's Fourth Plinth

Iraqi ancient winged bull resurrected on London's Fourth Plinth
A recreation of the mythical winged bull that guarded the Assyrian city of Nineveh, made using cans of Iraqi date syrup, has been installed in London's Trafalgar Square.
2 min read
28 Mar, 2018
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Michael Rakowitz unveil the Fourth Plinth sculpture [Getty]
A recreation of a mythological beast that guarded the ancient city of Nineveh, made using 10,500 cans of Iraqi date syrup, has been unveiled in London's Trafalgar Square.

The 14-foot statue, installed so it gazes towards the Middle East, was unveiled by the Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz and the capital's mayor Sadiq Khan on Wednesday.

The artwork, sitting atop London's famous Fourth Plinth, an ever-changing exhibition space, is a sculpture of a lamassu, a winged bull creature with the head of a man, which served as a protective deity at Nineveh's Nergal Gate.

Having survived 3,000 years, the original was reduced to rubble by Islamic State militants in 2015.

Its resurrection was constructed of 10,500 cans of date syrup, representing Iraq's renowned date industry before it was decimated by two Gulf Wars and decades of sanctions.

The sculpture is part of Rakowitz's project - The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist - to reconstruct all 7,000 objects known to have been looted from the National Museum of Iraq in the aftermath of the 2003 US-led invasion.

All of the recreations are made from Middle Eastern foodstuff packaging and local Arabic newspapers. 

On one occasion Rakowitz bought 18 of Saddam Hussein's dinner plates from a US veteran and a refugee whose father had been a high-ranking soldier in the Iraqi army, and featured them in his 2011 work Spoils, in which he persuaded a Manhattan restaurant to use them to serve an Iraqi dish of venison and date syrup.

The project was halted after two months when the restaurant received a cease-and-desist letter from the US Department of State and the crockery was returned to Iraq.

Rakowitz's sculpture is the 12th work to appear on the Fourth Plinth since the programme started, and will be there until March 2020.

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