“Kurdish Pain”

Zeen Hayran

Object: Relief of a woman’s face. Material: Ivory. Found in Nimrud (ancient Kalhu), Iraq. Manchester Museum inv. 1966.3. Originally this relief was one of thousands of pieces of carved ivory in the palace built by the Assyrian king Ashurnasipal II. The woman wears a wig, with four pendants hanging over her forehead, and jewellery. Her eyes would have been of coloured glass or semi-precious stones, but these are now lost, leaving her eyes empty. Photography by Julia Thorne / Tetisheri

The first time I saw the woman’s face I thought she was screaming. When I looked closer, I realised that this wasn’t the case. The impression of a scream was created by a chip in the ivory. But the image stayed with me. Why was she screaming? Grief? Pain? Loneliness? Frustration? As a Kurdish woman I felt her pain as my own.
Zeen Hayran

“Kurdish Pain” by Zeen Hayran. Ceramic and paint (left). Ceramic and glaze (right).
Photography by Julia Thorne / Tetisheri