Assyrian Pazuzu Amulet, 8th-6th Century BC
Carved of basalt or diorite
Pazuzu was an Assyrian and Babylonian demonic god who is represented with a canine head, scaly body, a snake headed penis, the talons of a bird and usually four wings of a bird. He is often regarded as an evil underworld demon, but he seems also to have played a beneficent role as a protector against pestilential winds; a bronze figure of Pazuzu in the Louvre, (accession number MNB 467) is inscribed, “I am Pazuzu, son of Hanpa, king of the evil spirits of the air which issues violently from mountains, causing much havoc.” His close association with Lamashtu, a fierce demon goddess responsible for child mortality, resulted in him being used to counter her powers and send her back to the underworld. Amulets of Pazuzu were positioned in dwellings to act as protective barriers to evil powers, or are often in the form of just a head, as in this example, and were hung around the necks of pregnant women. Pazuzu is popularly known today as the demon from the 1973 film, The Exorcist.