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Al Warka Vase

I have been obsessed by Al Warka Vase Uruk/ Mesopotamia—Iraq—dated to ca. 3300 B.C. since I saw it at the Archaeological museum of Baghdad in 1970’s-80’s. Mostly, I am fascinated by its composition and how that narrative or say record and report of drama of life and cycle of fertility can be visualized so eloquently in the body of a Vase used to store seeds. Also, I have found how the body of the Vase was carved to enforce a circular composition, and make the circles of the Vase, interlaced rhetorically to present a notion of the cyclical and renewal of earth. 

Always, I see the Vessel surface as subdivided into 7 (seven) registers –not five (5) as most archaeologists see it—I count the two empty friezes as having meaning; we have to fill them. Also, I see the vessel as a dense, circular, pictorial depiction, in the individual seven rings, but, they sometimes look as a spiral hierarchical composition, and that also makes the composition very much unique. But, where is the top and where is the bottom of the story? Where is the beginning and where is the end? This is my question in my upcoming project based on the Vase. 

These works are just an introduction to the beginning of a long term project based on the Al Warka Vase concept and pictorial depiction.


I endeavour to update the vessel concept and with compassion to what new narrative now is on earth, with the crucial question of losing the cyclical and renewal of earth which is created by us. 

Hanaa Malallah

Copyright: © 2023 Hanaa Malallah

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