Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Lamassu, Goose and NY downpour

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:01 PM
After admiring some statues in the Greek and Roman Art gallery, I wondered where the lamassu were located. Checking the map, I went upstairs to the Ancient Near East gallery and when I turned around the corner, the pair stood there facing me with back flood lights. I froze on the spot. After seeing the 2 pairs of the 5 legged winged bulls at the British Museum, I had wanted to see more of them and didnt even know the Met had a pair. They were gifts from Rockefeller (where did he get them from?). The stone reliefs adorned the entire room. I couldnt believe the museum completely recreated the audience hall in the Northwest Palace of Ashurnasirpal II at Nimrud, with the colossal figures standing as guardians. The museum guard just thought I was nuts photographing each panel. I spent a good half hour sitting in front of the lamassu. I first learned of them in the archaeology class I took at Stanford right before my sabbatical and had made myself a promise to see them at the BM. And now I saw them at the Met and I wondered if they were the exact ones I saw before.

The decision to do the Met in NY came to me one afternoon while surfing the net. It had proven to be a wise one because we arrived back in NYC in fog and cloudy skies. The rest of the group got soaked through taking the ferry to Staton island to see the Lady. About mid day it started to rain. The downpour didnt stop until late in the afternoon. My camera batteries were dead, so I ventured out to 86th st to try to get new ones. Just then it started to rain. Luckily I spotted a grocery store and went in to get some food and batteries. I ate my cold chicken sheltered under the canopy of an apartment building. I havent seen summer rain (or was it early autumn rain?) in a long time. It was refreshing and came down in straight sheets. I miss this kind of rain very very much and so was quite happy standing underneath it. Back at the Met I went in to the Egyptian gallery and thought it was even bigger than the one in BM, and certainly have more displays than the Cairo museum. This is very very sad as I believe ancient artifacts should belong where they were found, but I guess it is very very good for us because not many can journey afar to see these things.

I can upon the temple of Dendur in a comparatively quiet atrium. So I decided to phone the Goose and arrange to meet. Then still unwilling to leave the museum, I walked through the arms and armor gallery, the american decorative art, and the European sculpture and decorative art, and ventured back upstairs to see the paintings. Oh, my favorite Bruegel's Harvesters , Poussin's the rape of the Sabine women, lots of early Goya, and many others I know nothing about.

Visiting the Met was heaven for me. But what toped it even more was the figure dressed in black, hurrying towards the Met entrance. This time the Hippo was no longer scared. She had met the Goose once before so she knew what to expect. My feet were screaming to take a break (I've been on my feet since 5AM!) so I had wanted to find a place to sit and drink something and chat. We walked a few blocks until we found a Starbucks but there was no empty tables. So we decided to do the park. While coming upon the Jacqueline Kennedy Onasis reservoir, Goose reached inside his bag and pulled out a camera. I knew he spotted a fantastic view for a picture, as I also did.
We ended up sitting on a bench in Central Park with romantic views of the uptown buildings. I never knew Central Park could be so gorgeous in a rainy day and the buildings could offer such a dramatic backdrop.

Goose wasnt too talkative, perhaps just shy, or perhaps still not entirely comfortable with the Hippo, and I knew I was boring him, but I was just happy to see him again, afterall he did make a pilgrimage to the Hippo's bathplace! It was simply soothing to watch him talk, moving his marvelous hands in symphony with his low polite voice. This guy is intelligent beyond imagination and I felt minute in his presence.

Subway again back down, this time just to Times Square as I thought the rest of the group was. But they were waiting in line to get to the top of the Empire State building, so I had to walk the 10 blocks to get there, checking out the shops on 8th Ave, along the way. We dined at a Japanese bbq yourself place in Greenwich and then back to our hotel with marvelous views of the Hudson and Jersey city!

The next morning we briefly checked out the Irish famine memorial across the street and then went inside to check the remodeled World Finance Center, completely redone with marble floor and staircase. A huge window offered a direct view of what used to be ground zero. Years before we had to get a ticket and wait in line to see it. Now, I not only walked by and around it, we drove by as if it's just another construction site. On our way to the airport, we crossed the Brooklyn bridge, my first time.

As we promised every time we left NYC, we would come back soon just to do shopping. Last time I left here I was continuing on the Iceland. This time, I miss Manhattan like I've never had before.

 Lamassu at the Met

G & H
 Goose and Hippo
 at Central Park

brooklyn Bridge
 On the Brooklyn Bridge


Western Flyer said...

You have yet another pilgrimage to make in your quest for Assyrian winged bulls - The Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago has one of the originals from the throne room of Sargon II.

Western Flyer said...

Those colossal lamassu always remind me of Shelly's poem, one of my favorites:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.


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