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Iranian Sculptor Incarnates Gilgamesh

30-ton artwork installed in Southern Turkey


By B. John Zavrel



The Iranian sculptor Babak Sobhi in his workshop in Turkey.


Ankara/New York (meaus) The Iranian artist Babak Sobhi has created a ceramic sculpture that depicts the Gilgamesh epic, which was originally written in the Akkadian language. The 30-ton artwork has been installed in the Summer Park of the city of Diyarbakir, located in Southern Turkey, where the artist is based at this time.

The sculpture is in the form of a ring, and contains the whole Gilgamesh Epic, which consists of 12 clay tablets, originally found in the library of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal in Nineveh. The whole story is carved on 2,500 individual pieces, each measuring 40x40 centimeters.

In a recent interview, the 47-year-old artist referred to the artwork as the largest of its kind in the Middle East. "The Gilgamesh epic is known for its use of the word 'amargi' meaning freedom and the recurrence of the concept of social justice" , he pointed out.

The 30-ton artwork has been installed on 30 columns, each 2 meters in height. It took Sobhi and his 10 assistants 27 months to make and match the pieces. Sobhi, who has been living in Turkey since 1990, has so far created some 100 sculptures in the country.

The Epic of Gilgamesh, an ancient Mesopotamian poem, is among the earliest known literary works of fiction, which is mostly about Gilgamesh's search for immortality, after the death of his friend Enkidu. 

Scholars believe that it originated as a series of Sumerian legends and poems about the mythological hero, and was later gathered together to form this Akkadian poem.

The acclaimed Iranian poet and author Ahmad Shamlou translated the Gilgamesh into Persian.  



© PROMETHEUS 138/2008

PROMETHEUS, Internet Bulletin - News, Politics, Art and Science. Nr. 138, December 2008