Obit of the Day: Iraq’s Landmark Sculptor
Mohammed Ghani Hikmat designed hundreds of sculptures that dotted Baghdad’s landscape. His works were most often characters from the famed 1,001 Nights (also known as the Arabian Nights) and could be found in public spaces including the National Museum of Iraq. Many of his works were looted from the museum after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and his studio was ransacked, destroying dozens of other sculptures. In self-exile in Jordan since before the U.S. invasion, he began a program to buy back art stolen from the National Museum. Over 100 pieces were re-acquired this way.
Mr. Hikmat’s most famous work though was a massive work of art that was ordered by Saddam Hussein himself. Designed by another artist, Khalid al-Rahal, Mr. Hikmat agreed to complete the sculpture after Mr. al-Rahal died. When it was finished in 1989, the arches were dedicated by Mr. Hussein himself as he rode beneath them on a white horse.
Note: According to Wikipedia, the arches are 130 feet tall and the swords weigh twenty-four tons. The arms and hands were modeled from plaster casts from Mr. Hussein. Mr. Hikmat personally cast Mr. Hussein’s thumb in plaster.
Mr. Hikmat did return to Iraq in 2010 but died in Amman, Jordan while receiving medical treatment. He was 82.
(Image courtesy of wikipedia.org)