the Nineveh convex mirror

In Mirrors by Mark Evans

The Nineveh convex mirror came to me in sorry shape. After gilding and glazing the frame to an almost tortoise shell effect I layered bronze colored transparent Venetian glass rods to the entire surface, cutting the rods to fit the slight curve of the wings of the frame. Each “wing” has a spear of smoky quartz fitted onto the inner frame, interspersed with smoky quartz spheres. The mirror is framed by bronze colored glass cabochons.

The Nineveh convex mirror measures about 23 inches in diameter. It resides in my studio prior to being shipped to one of my showrooms.

Jewelry for walls!

Nineveh is the name of an ancient city in Upper Mesopotamia built on the banks of the Tigris river. It was the largest city in the world for fifty years until 612 BC when it was sacked by the rival Babylonians. A slow but thorough declined commenced till excavations( looting) began in the Middle Ages.

In Nineveh’s prime it was a center of the creative arts and architecture that rivaled the ancient Egyptians. Bronze, pottery, jewelry and enormous carvings embellished the riches of Nineveh. Among the most famous are the carved stone monumental winged lions, with human heads( Lamassu), celestial beings representing the deity Lamma. These sculptures can be seen in museums all over the world.

Monumental Lamassu in the Louvre

Nineveh is the site of many historical or mythic stories. Jonah( of the Whale in the bible) originates in Nineveh. Another is quite a hoot. The emperor Sardanapalus was the last Assyrian emperor. His story is as follows:

Diodorus says that Sardanapalus, son of Anakyndaraxes, exceeded all previous rulers in sloth and luxury. He spent his whole life in self-indulgence. He dressed in women’s clothes and wore make-up. He had many concubines, female and male. He wrote his own epitaph, which stated that physical gratification is the only purpose of life. His lifestyle caused dissatisfaction within the Assyrian empire, allowing a conspiracy against him to develop led by an alliance of Medes, Persians and Babylonians and challenged the Assyrians. Sardanapalus stirred himself to action and routed the rebels several times in battle, but failed to crush them. Believing he had defeated the rebels, Sardanapalus returned to his decadent lifestyle, ordering sacrifices and celebrations. But the rebels were reinforced by new troops from Bactria. Sardanapalus’s troops were surprised during their partying, and were routed.

Sardanapalus returned to Nineveh to defend his capital, while his army was placed under the command of his brother-in-law, who was soon defeated and killed. Having sent his family to safety, Sardanapalus prepared to hold Nineveh. He managed to withstand a long siege, but eventually heavy rains caused the Tirgis to overflow, leading to the collapse of one of the defensive walls. To avoid falling into the hands of his enemies, Sardanapalus had a huge funeral pyre created for himself on which were piled “all his gold, silver and royal apparel”. He had his eunuchs and concubines boxed in inside the pyre, burning himself and them to death.

In other words, he died of ennui.

The Death of Sardanapalus by Eugene Delacroix( 1827)