Bronze protome, Yemen
Sabean Kingdom, Yemen, Arabic Peninsula
Height : 18 cm
Provenance : Galerie David Ghezelbash, Paris
Private collection, Paris
Publication : "KunstKammer"
(M. Doustar, 2017), n°3
In the shape of the powerful forequarters of a bull, his massive head with round muzzle, grooved nostrils, and ribbed builging brows, symbolic motifs an crescent moon engraved on the forehead, a lozenge-decorated diadem between the horns. This rare Sabean inscription is dedicated to the moon god and refers to the people of Qataban, the most prominent Yemeni kingdom in the second half of the 1st millennium before Christ.
A written report by Prof. Walter W. Muller, from the Center for Near and Middle-Eastern studies of Philipps University of Marburg, describes in detail the context and the meaning of these different motifs.
"The South Arabians before Islam were polytheist and revered a large number of deities. Most of these were astral in concept but the significance of only a few is known. It was essentially a planetary system in which the moon as a masculine deity prevailed. This, combined with the use of a star calendar by the agriculturists of certain parts, particularly in the Hadramaut, indicates that there was an early reverence for the night sky. Amongst the South Arabians the worship of the moon continued, and it is almost certain that their religious calendar was also lunar and that their years were calculated by the position of the moon. The national god of each of the kingdoms or states was the Moon-god known by various names: "Ilumquh by the Sabaens, 'Amm and 'Anbay by the Qatabanians, Wadd (love) by the Minaeans, and Sin by the Hadramis". the term 'God is Love' is characteristic of Wadd (Briffault 3/85). 'the Merciful' ascribed to Allah is also South Arabian (Pritchard).
Biblio. : briffault, Robert, 1927, The Mothers, George Allen Unwin, London.
Pritchard, James ed. 1974, Solomon and Sheba, Phaidon, New York.
Price on request