Lamasu as Phoenix

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Posted by pancho from ? ( on Monday, April 15, 2002 at 10:28AM :

In Reply to: I Have An Idea posted by pancho from ? ( on Sunday, April 14, 2002 at 9:41PM :

Here goes...

The Lamasu is a powerful and well known symbol in our culture. To the ancients it represented the very best of the creatures of the earth (bull), the air or spirit world (bird), and the Human.

The most famous one has the atributes of three beings, whereas the Greek centaur represents only two, man and horse. Our Lamasu combines the power and fecundity of the Bull who rules over and increases the herds, with the wings of the eagle and hawk who soar above the material world into those airy realms, we know not where, but "up there" high enough that our imagination soars with them as on wings. And Man, of course, as the mind, the brain, the creative impulse which they hoped, from then till now, would find his place in the Universe without destroying it...having as he did the brute, sustaining power as well as the sublime characteristics of the animals he is an amalgam of.

Nothing in our Art or culture evokes where we came from better than that symbol, or identifies us to others. We are the Lamasu and it is us. That hasn't changed in thousands of years.

Look, The first thing you have to get into your thick and hairy heads is that the story of Assyria is NOT over...not by a long shot. In our past there were dark periods lasting centuries. Times when others ruled over us or our boundaries were trimmed and we hemmed in. This is simply another bend in the river, that's all...the eternal one that rolls right through the Land Between The Rivers...GET IT???

I want to make a larger than life-size bronze monument of the Lamasu. It would be based upon the model posted here in the gallery. I don't want to make just one and put it in one city, in any one country. I want to place duplicates of it in as many cities on this globe as we can.

We will never be united by our religionS...that should be plainly, even painfully clear, by now. Neither have we got the foggiest notion of what we mean when we say "politics" or "democracy". These are words way, way, beyond our ken. We ARE looney enough to flatter ourselves by following any number of pseudo-political clubs and organizations, usually consisting of three winos and a wooden table they "congregate in congress" at.

Politics and religion will never be a unifying force with us because you have to have an overriding, or rather an underlying, identity that binds you closer together than these can...for religion IS conflict and contention...and especially so is politics, by definition a contentious business. Only in a Fascistic State could we hope to attain what we seem to think "unity" of politics and religion means...and then who in his right mind would want to live there.

Without an underlying commonality, we will forever languish and squabble and divide into smaller units till we are no more. That is precisely our challenge...the modern challenge to what remains of the Assyrian and Chaldean and the other Peoples who hail from our part of the world.

What can we more likely agree upon? What does the world already know of us that isn't as horrible as the nonsense they picked up in that Jewish history book known as the "holy" bible? The answer, the only one I can think of, is our Art.

So...I would like to propose that we use this most powerful evocation of who we are, not "were", but ARE, as a rallying point...a central core idea or symbol to place in the cities around the world where there happens to be enough Assyrians and Chaldeans and others who feel embraced by the wings... inspired by the power, and called to by the MIND of this symbol...and, dear Lord Ashur, do we NEED a symbol of what we are now.

The Lamasu, like the Phoenix, can rise again from its ashes. Not to follow the dismal path of Israel, a path the Jews were set on to tread wearily by the incredible cruelty and stupidity of Insitutionalized Christianity...but to forge our own, as we did back when there were few paths to follow and we had to break new ground.

I realize that most of us are going to be indifferent...more of us will not ever know such a thing was proposed, or worked on, or even achieved. But great things, new and necessary things, are NEVER engaged in by a majority. It is always a handful of people...whether an explorer, an astronomer, a chemist or writer, that shines a light where others are afraid or too ignorant to go.

How to begin? I already have. I'm sitting here writing aren't I? NO...I am not asking any of you for anything. I will be trying to sell copies of the Lamasu at $2000 each...proceeds to go to the making of the first one. Let's take one step at a time. At around $100,000 this monument is less costly than the first one I did 14 years ago...which may seem like I'm going backwards...let it.

We are not a people to value original artwork. It will be a long long time before we will have family heirlooms, besides used cars, to cherish and pass along. Other people, other groups, other families, have this tradition. Some Assyrian families have just scratched the surface here and hopefully more will follow. $2000 isn't a lot for an original bronze, (I can't afford it)...especially if you consider that, unlike that Volkswagon with attitude you bought, this "investment" will appreciate in value...though not many will ever want to sell.

The other models for monuments ranged from $5,000 to $6,500...a bit steep and affordable to les people. Ideally we would get 100,000 people to give a dollar each, because what's important are the numbers of people we attract to an IDEA. If one person foots the kills the thing.

I'm back here in San Jose expressely in order to attract enough buyers so I can devote the time needed to finish the first phase. When the sculpture is in clay, you can't stall around waiting for a Dimrod to come through. Clay is waterbased, it shrinks and expands as you add water to keep it soft and pliable. I don't have a proper studio, never did since I worked out of the bed of my 66 Ford pick-up truck in New York 25 years ago. I need to shelter this huge beast in wet sheets and plastic wraps to keep it from drying and cracking and falling apart.

I will build a roof to keep the direct sunlight off, and to provide protection from the sun, and wind, while I work on exposed parts of the Lamasu, or the whole thing too. But once I get started it's important to work right through till done with that stage. You can keep adding water to keep the clay soft, but after awhile you begin to wash away detail and these things all make the job much harder. besides...I don't want to take forever with this thing. The entire job can be done in a year...with 75 people buying the sculpture. It will cost $500 for each copy, with the rest going towards the monument.

The reason I choose this piece also is because I have modified its original or archaic interpretation, and while I know that drives some of us to distraction...we cannot claim any important consideration by eternally and only and forever copying everything from the ancients. Art is "interpretation". As I tried to explain to the Neandrathals among our Chaldean community in Detroit when they insisted I make a direct copy of the one depiction of Hammurabi on that famous Stelle...there is little reason to feel pride, or expect to get much notice, if the best we can do is COPY something 3000 and more years old. Can not our people come up with at least ONE interpretation...something to show that we've made a little progress in that time...that we've found ONE other way to say something?

My Lamasu design has a more contemporary feel to it, while still using the iconography of thousands of years ago...that combination makes for the most powerful evocation there can be. If you have a better idea, or feel you can do it better, or get an Italian to do it for less, or a German to be more of a pain in the ass about it...DO IT! But if you can't, or don't really want to, or if all you want to do is start writing letters from now "warning" officials that this awful thing is coming to city near you, then be prepared cause I am going to ream you inside out. Skunks like the Gassman are free to be the sneaky, lying, backstabbing jerks they are, and I'm just as free to turn them into roadkill.

More later...

-- pancho
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