Symbols from ancient mythology are present in the work of many a Syrian artist, who considers cultural practices which are of a time less authentic than events that he sees to be out of time (myths, legends and the past"). This is because such stories were the products of popular imagination, therefore seen as more sincere, even if not real. For some modernists, Fateh Moudarres included, any authentic art in any cultural tradition must have this geographical specificity, it came- literally and figuratively- from the Syrian land itself. For him peasants are the inheritors of the ancient Levant.
Assyrian legends find their way into many of Fateh Moudarres's works. He was greatly influenced by the sculptures he had seen when exploring the archeological sites in Syria, and this inspired him to make legends of his own, to mirror his own emotions.
The present work, Achtar, represents the Assyrian mother goddess, and is one of the largest of his works in which this kind of mythological reference is overt. Achtar herself is shown nude and ghostly, an invisible presence from time immemorial, whilst a crowd of people, including diminutive officials, go about their daily routine. The people are oblivious to the spirit of the land.
Achtar (also known as Ishtar) was the chief goddess and in the ancient Mesopotamian pantheon, the Queen of Heaven and the Mother Goddesss. She was believed to have given birth to the world and yet remained a virgin. She was related to many things, including fertility, beauty , sexuality, and war. She had many symbols, which included lions, horses, the sphinx, the dove, and a star within a circle indicating the planet Venus. She was often portrayed naked and very beautiful.
For the Babylonians she symbolized feminitiy with strength, ruling without a male consort, she reigned absolute on her own and united in her all the aspects of femininity. For the Assyrians she was seen mainly a war goddess, symbolized by a lion, but was also the goddess of love and sexuality.