What do you do when your civil, political, cultural and educational institutions are destroyed, your homeland comes under siege, your countrymen are brutally murdered, centuries-old cultural artifacts are demolished and the majority of citizens are forced to abandon their birthplace and ancestral homeland?
And then, you create ART.
Showcased monumentally on palace walls and other edifices, these early Assyrian artworks relied heavily on images of animals as protective guardians – most famously winged lions and other beasts, often sporting human heads.
After 612 B.C., Assyria entered the first of several dark periods, emerging occasionally, but never regaining political or social dominance, then suffering from mass genocide in the early part of the Twentieth Century.
Today Assyrians no longer control their ancestral lands, have dissipated to various regions around the globe and face a future of struggle as they try to keep Assyrian culture and traditions alive.
It is precisely this struggle that results in the rich and important mix of styles that continues to define Assyrian art today. With limited geographic boundaries, religious practices or political allegiances to carry the culture forward, art has emerged as a dominate focal point for all those who identify as modern Assyrians. Many others simply wish to understand and appreciate the influence and contributions rightfully attributed to Assyria (which may currently be seen by many as belonging to other nation/states).
Today we use a broad definition to classify Assyrian Arts, looking to highlight and showcase the work of artists and performers directly descended from the traditions of ancient Assyria, and those who have been influenced and motivated by this fascinating region of the world.