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Art of Mesopotamia

107 Harvard Avenue North, Claremont, CA 91711, USA

April 1st 2023

Paul Batou is an Assyrian Visual Artist and this collection was based on his pleas and prayers written in November 2019 and painted over the past several months as the world faces the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first of April marks Akitu—the Assyrian New Year, commonly referred to as Kha b’Nissan. It is the most important Assyrian national holiday, and its celebration is one of the many links between ancient and modern Assyrians. Kha b’Nissan was not only the first day of the new year, but it also marked the start of Spring. During this time, trees and flowers would begin to bloom again. As such, the holiday was a symbol of revival—a major theme in ancient Assyrian mythology. Many Assyrians viewed this day each year as the “start of a new life.”

In ancient times, the Akitu festival was celebrated for twelve days. According to the ancient calendar, the first of April coincided with the Spring Equinox (March 21). It was only after the Assyrians adopted Christianity and embraced the Gregorian Calendar that the date was moved. Assyrian mythology tells of a story where the goddess of love marries the vegetation god. Their unity, which occurred during the Spring Equinox, ensured the renewal of life, blessing the Earth with fertility. This myth was central to the Akitu celebrations.

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