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HOME : Near Eastern Art : Luristan Art : Luristan Mistress of the Beasts
Luristan Mistress of the Beasts - AM.0183
Origin: Central Asia
Circa: 900 BC to 600 BC
Dimensions: 6.75" (17.1cm) high x 1.9" (4.8cm) wide
Collection: Near Eastern
Medium: Bronze

Location: UAE
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This finial was produced in the era when the Luristan metal workshops were at their most prolific, c. 900-600 B.C. Similar designs can be found on a range of items including horse gear, axes and hair and clothing pins. These were all burial items distinguished by the large repertory of animal motifs, both real and imagined. By this period bronze was reserved for decorative artefacts that symbolised social standing among the communities of the Zagros mountains; more mundane, utilitarian objects were made of iron. The hallmark of Luristan wares is the tendency to elongate the necks, tails and bodies of the animals to produce graceful curves and arches. The re-discovery of the splendour of Luristan metalwork began in the 1930s and made considerable progress after World War II. The absence of relevant written records makes their complex imagery difficult to interpret in specific religious terms but it is likely that they represent local deities of some kind.

This piece is clearly related to a type known as the ‘mistress of the beasts’ in which the central figure grasps a pair of wild animals by the neck. Although the iconography is similar, in this example the female deity encircles her breasts with her arms. Cockerel heads spring from both shoulders, forming small curves with their beaks. The face itself is highly stylised with large round eyes and a protruding triangular nose. The body and legs of the figure are indicated in abbreviated form in the lower section. The tube itself is hollow with an opening at the top and bottom. Although its precise function is unknown it may have been attached to a standard or pole made of a perishable material such as wood. The attractive patina and the mystery of the iconography make this a desirable collector’s item. - (AM.0183)


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