a modest apartment in the Kurdish city of Irbil, where Thabit and his
family took refuge after fleeing Mosul, the young artist meticulously
carved with his sculpting cutter the beard of Lamassu, an Assyrian
"Lamassu is my favorite
statue," said Thabit. "It is the strongest creature in the Assyrian
heritage. It has the head of a human, the body of a lion, the legs of an
ox and the wings of a vulture."
He said it took him about 15 days to complete the piece.
According to a website that tracks the damage to artifacts, three Lamassu statues were destroyed by ISIS in Iraq.
The website is run by Christopher Jones,
a student in ancient near eastern history at Columbia University in New
York. He said that one of the Lamassu statues was destroyed in Nimrud,
another was in the Nergal Gate of Nineveh, while the third was in the
After the Iraqi army retook Nimrud and nearby areas this week, more details are expected to emerge on the scale of the damage done by ISIS to the relics.
Over the past year, Thabit has sculpted 18 Assyrian statues and one
mural. He was trained by his father, Thabit Michael, a sculptor himself,
who took Thabit with him to his workshop and allowed him to play with
clay from the age of seven. Michael said teaching his son did not
require a lot of effort. "Nenous is an incredibly fast learner," he told
CNN. "I see huge potentials in him".
Since then, and up until last year,
sculpting was just a hobby Thabit pursued when he was not in school. But
after ISIS attacked his heritage, he started taking the craft very
"In Iraq, there are
people who are killed because they are sculptors; because they are
artists. ISIS view them as apostate," he told CNN over the phone.
"So continuing to sculpt is a message that we will not be intimidated by those devils."
He is hoping to attend art school in the Kurdish city of Dohuk next year.
dream is to become a prominent artist in Iraq to make my country proud
and show the world that we in Iraq love life and cherish our heritage,"