Mushhushshu-dragon, Symbol of the God Marduk, 604 - 562 BCE

  • Babylonian, Mesopotamian

Molded and glazed baked brick

  • Overall: 45 1/2 × 65 3/4 inches (115.6 × 167 cm)

Founders Society Purchase, General Membership Fund


On View

  • Ancient Middle East Gallery


Ancient Near Eastern Art

In ancient Babylon, the mushhushshu (pronounced “moosh-hoosh-shoo”) was a divine creature associated with Marduk, the main god of the city. “Mushhushshu” means "furious snake," but the animal’s body combines the head and scales of a snake, the claws of an eagle, the legs of a lion, and a tail ending in a scorpion’s stinger. This Mushhushshu was one of the protective animal figures on Babylon’s Ishtar Gate. Nearly five stories tall, and built to impress, the Ishtar Gate was part of the Processional Way, a ceremonial road leading into the walled city.

(Babylon, Iraq). Vorderasiastisches Museum (Berlin, Germany)

1931-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

Bulletin of the DIA 12, 7 (1931): p. 78. Cottrell, Leonard, ed. The Concise Encyclopaedia of Archaeology. London, 1960, p. 105 (pl. 4). Themes in World Literature. 1970, p. 505 (ill.). DIA Handbook. 1971, p. 30. Peck, W. H. Archaeology 31, 18 (May/June 1978): (ill.). cf. Orthmann, W. Propylaen Kunstgeschichte 14. Der Alte Orient. (col. pl. 26, pl. 252). Family Art Game, DIA Advertising Supplement. Detroit News, April 14, 1985, p. 28 (ill.). 100 Masterworks from the Detroit Institute of Arts. New York, 1985, p.26-27 (ill.). Matson, F. R. "Glazed Brick from Babylon - Historical Setting and Microprobe Analyses." Ceramics and Civilization, Vol 2. Columbus, OH, 1986, pp. 148,152,156. Henshaw, Julia P., ed. A Visitors Guide: The Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1995, p. 95(ill.).

Babylonian, Mesopotamian; Neo-Babylonian, Mesopotamian, Mushhushshu-dragon, Symbol of the God Marduk, 604 - 562 BCE, molded and glazed baked brick. Detroit Institute of Arts, Founders Society Purchase, General Membership Fund, 31.25.