The ancient Sabaean Kingdom was established in the 1st millennium B.C.E. on the southwestern edge of the Arabian Peninsula in what is now Yemen. There were a number of regional kingdoms in ancient Yemen, including the Minaeans to the north and the Qatabanians to the east. These South Arabian peoples shared a special heritage and similar languages, yet all considered themselves distinct among each region.
Sabaean art is particularly noted for its influence on many of our most celebrated modern artists. The works of Picasso, Modigliani, and Giacometti all give reference to Sabaean art in their many abstract and severe representations of the human form.
The Sabaeans were involved in the spice trade, which made for a great number of wealthy merchants who commissioned buildings and portraits for themselves and in tribute to the local gods. The Sabaeans are now long forgotten, and historical references to the kingdoms and its people are scant. Yet many wonderful artifacts from Sabaean culture are still with us today, including the famous “Bronze Man” from approximately the 6th century B.C.E., a nearly life-size bronze sculpture that resides in the Louvre of a Sabaean man with his proud face looking resolutely forward.