This Statuette of a Human-Headed Bull represents a very popular mythological hybrid figure that was largely widespread in Near Eastern iconography (especially in glyptics) from the Sumerian period, that is the bull with a bearded human head, wearing a headgear (tiara) adorned with a single pair of horns.
The animal is seated on a low, elliptical base with its legs folded under its body; its head is turned to the right, towards the viewer. Many anatomical details are rendered by incisions or by barely modeled volumes, like the legs or the coat represented by small beads on the neck, the upper back and the small tail. The face depicts a middle-aged man, with large eyes surrounded by eyebrows, a broad-winged nose, a small fleshy mouth and a long beard ending in a curl. The posterior part is less well finished and shows fewer details.
Maybe because of its state of preservation and of its miniature size, this figurine stylistically appears undeveloped and a bit naive.
A protective genie often found both in monumental statuary and minor arts, the human-headed bull was supposed to protect its owner from all kinds of demons: the terracotta examples or the small statuettes were buried following specific rituals at certain gates or doorways, so as to ward off evil spirits or to protect a particular room. These statuettes were often given to the deity in shrines, as a continuous offering.
Slightly more than a millennium after this figurine, one can find huge human-headed bulls carved in front of the doors of the great Assyrian cities, as a protection against enemies, but also against epidemics and other misfortunes.