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HOME : Near Eastern Art : Elamite Art : Elamite Bronze Staff Finial Surmounted by an Ibex
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Elamite Bronze Staff Finial Surmounted by an Ibex - LO.1372
Origin: Central Asia
Circa: 1600 BC to 900 BC
Dimensions: 5.50" (14.0cm) high x 6.6" (16.8cm) wide
Collection: Near Eastern Art
Medium: Bronze

Location: Great Britain
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Elam was an ancient kingdom of Asia, situated north of the Persian Gulf and east of the Tigris River, and corresponding approximately to the present-day province of Khuzistan in Iran. The capital of Elam and its most fabled city was Sûsa, today the city of Shûsh. This powerful empire has been overshadowed in history by the rival kingdoms of Babylon and Assyria. However, their extraordinary metalwork survives to this day, a testament to the expertise of their craftsman.

This unique bronze attachment terminates in an ibex head. The face is incredibly naturalistic and delicate with almond shaped eyes and a long snout. The curved horns are complete with evenly spaced ridges. Two circular bands separate the animal’s slender neck from the body of the attachment. Tapering towards the head, the main motif on the finial is a stylized depiction of a bird of prey, possibly a falcon. In complete contrast to the naturalistic style of the ibex, the bird motif is flat and angular. Repeated around the circumference of the body it may represent a type of pictogram. The wider end of the finial features two geometric bands with a zig-zag design. There is slight damage just below the ibex’s neck but the condition is otherwise excellent. Although ibex heads feature on many surviving examples of Elamite metalwork, the form of this piece is completely unique among surviving works and the level of craftsmanship is astonishing. Clearly an attachment of some kind, it may have been surmounted a royal staff or similar item of regalia. - (LO.1372)


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