The God with Clipped Wings
A great god is Ahuramazda, who created this earth, who created heaven, who created man, who created happiness for man, who made Xerxes king, one king of many kings . . .
This relief fragment of the god Ahuramazda in a winged disk was originally located high inside a doorway to a great hall at Persepolis, a capital of the Achaemenid Persian empire in Iran. Echoing the above inscriptions of King Xerxes I (r. 486–465 BCE), Ahuramazda hovered above an image of the enthroned king, who was supported by representatives of the empire’s subject peoples, lending divine legitimacy to Achaemenid rule.
Most of the doorway remains at Persepolis. The story of this fragment is told by its edges: smooth at top and bottom, where the original block joined others, and ragged on the sides, where it was trimmed to create a collector’s item. By restoring some sense of Ahuramazda’s soaring power, this installation acknowl-edges the damage and loss of context resulting from the often clandestine removal of antiquities from Middle Eastern sites that have ended up in western museums. More fragments from Persepolis are displayed in the gallery next door (3440).