When, last year, I got to see this Sumerian plaque (usually regarded as depicting Lilith) in the British Museum, I got very excited. Not only is it a beautiful and powerful figure, but Lilith is one of my favourite mythological characters - by some versions the world's first feminist. In Mesopotamia she was a night-demon and handmaid of the sex-goddess Inanna. In later Jewish folklore she was reinvented as the first wife of Adam, created at the same time as him from the earth (not from his rib as the later Eve was). She regarded herself as Adam's equal and, when it came to sex, refused to lie underneath but insisted they did it on their sides in token of this. When he wouldn't agree, she uttered the Ineffable Name and left him. She became a demon, haunting the night and forcing men to have wet dreams. She strangles babies and gets the blame for what we'd now call cot-deaths. And when medieval artists started depicting the temptation of Adam and Eve - what do you know? Suddenly the Serpent becomes female - it's Lilith back to wreak revenge on her Ex. This is a carving in Notre Dame, Paris:
One of the very first stories I wrote was all about Lilith - although as it's not erotica I don't think there's any chance it'll see the light of day again.
And she is the perfect subject for that sort of artist who rather likes the idea of a scary dominant sexy female demon...
You can see many more pictures of Lilith, ancient and modern, at the Lilith Gallery.