What is the meaning of “handbags” that Babylonian gods are often depicted carrying ? enter image description here![god with handbag]

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  • Assyro-Babylonian ;)
    – John Dee
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 1:48

1 Answer 1


The Met has one of these panels on display: enter image description here

It also has an interpretation of the image:

The figure depicted on the panel is eagle-headed and faces left, holding in his left hand a bucket and in his right hand a cone whose exact nature is unclear. One suggestion has been that the gesture, sometimes performed by figures flanking a sacred tree, is symbolic of fertilization: the "cone" resembles the male date spathe used by Mesopotamian farmers, with water, to artificially fertilize female date-palm trees. It does seem likely that the cone was supposed to hold and dispense water from the bucket in this way, but it is described in Akkadian as a "purifier," and the fact that figures performing this gesture are also shown flanking the king suggests that some purifying or protective meaning is present.

Another depiction can be seen here (I have cropped the image below to make it fit here): enter image description here

This shows the same 'sacred tree' that was discussed in the Met image. So we have an early depiction of... a bucket. Probably being used probably in some form of fertility rite.

  • And a wristwatch? :) Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 0:19
  • Probably a Babylonian style bracelet.
    – MAGolding
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 4:40
  • Since the wrist jewelry appears on both images, it is likely part of the priests' ritual wear or components, just like the buckets. Even the daggers and arm bands are repeated from image to image.
    – justCal
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 13:08
  • I'm just cracking up still at the thought of these pales as "handbags".
    – cmw
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 7:08

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