Western Asiatic Roaring Panther, reddish stone with white stone inlay, ca. 3rd - 2nd millennium BCE. 2 1/4" x 3 1/2" x 1 1/2" Standing on all fours with pricked ears and open mouth. Chip on right haunch and wear due to age and use. Otherwise in very good condition. Ex: S. Beiner collection, Florida. Cf. Pierre-Berge & Associates, Nov. 30, 2012, Lot 445. West Asian art goes back to the earliest presence of people in West Asia, in the form of little stone or clay fertility figurines. Around 9000 BC, they were carving stone at the temple of Gobekli Tepe. They didn’t carve human figures (we don’t know why not). But they carved all sorts of animals that probably had symbolic meaning at this temple. By 7000 BC, in the first little settled towns, people were making masks and big statues of people. This one is made of gypsum plaster and reeds, with tar eyes. Although it isn’t life-size, it is about three feet tall. Probably it originally wore real clothing, or had clothing painted on. By the beginning of the Bronze Age, about 3000 BC, the Sumerians were making much more complex statues. Because there is not much good stone in Mesopotamia, and also a terrible shortage of wood, the Sumerians made most of their statues out of clay. This makes Sumerian statues look very different from Egyptian ones of the same time, because the Egyptian ones, cut from square blocks of stone, tend to be squarish, while the Sumerian statues, built up out of lumps of clay, tend to be roundish.