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HOME : Near Eastern Art : Bactrian Art : Lead Round Applique/Mirror
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Lead Round Applique/Mirror - LO.1109 (LSO)
Origin: Central Asia
Circa: 300 BC to 100 BC
Dimensions: 3.5" (8.9cm) depth
Collection: Near Eastern
Medium: Lead
Condition: Very Fine

Location: Great Britain
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This highly-decorated metal disc is a mirror from the ancient Kingdom of Bactria. It constitutes a once highly-polished lead disc, decorated on the reverse with the outline of an ibex or perhaps a ram, with a highly encrusted patina of age.

The now-extinct country of Bactria spread across what are now Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Northern Afghanistan. It was one of many economic and social entities in the vicinity, and was a powerful country due to the exceptional fertility and wealth of its agricultural lands. This in turn gave rise to a complex and multifaceted set of societies with specialist craftsmen who produced luxury materials such as this for the ruling and aristocratic elites. For this reason, the area was fought over from deep prehistory until the Mediaeval period, by the armies of Asia Minor, Greece (Macedonia), India and the Arab States, amongst others.

This piece is probably made from an alloy of lead and copper, in order to raise sufficient shine to be used as a mirror. It has not been cleaned, in order to preserve the natural patina of use and age that has built up on it. It is a prestige piece insofar as metalworking at this point in history was something reserved for elite items, and only somebody of considerable substance would have been able to commission and afford it. The decoration is not specifically indicative, although there is a traditional emphasis on social elites where hunting of wild animals is concerned, and this might therefore constitute something of an aristocratic plaything of the period.

Whatever its social role, however, it is an alluringly personal and charming piece of ancient art, and a valuable addition to any collection of the genre. - (LO.1109 (LSO))


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