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HOME : Near Eastern Art : Luristan Art : Luristan Finial Sculpture Depicting a Master of the Beasts
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Luristan Finial Sculpture Depicting a Master of the Beasts - FZ.030
Origin: Central Asia
Circa: 800 BC to 600 BC
Dimensions: 6.875" (17.5cm) high
Catalogue: V1
Collection: Near Eastern
Medium: Bronze

Location: UAE
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Luristan (or Lorestan) literally means “Land of the Lurs”, and was situated in a wide sweep of the Zagros mountains in what is now western Iran. The sociopolitics of this area are complex, with repeated waves and invasions of Medes, Cimmerians and Persians, amongst others, but the culture thus created is remarkable for its superb control of metalworking. There are many styles, but the best-known pieces of bronze from this area are anthropomorphic and zoomorphic pieces reflecting religious and secular tastes, as well as weaponry and utilitarian items that were buried with the deceased in tombs across the Zagros area. It was nonetheless viewed as a precious resource, and was used alongside iron once this metal became available, for while its qualities of hardness and durability were recognized, it merely made bronze a more socially exclusive material. 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 splendor 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. It has been suggested that such elaborate bronze items must have been the preserve of the tribal leaders, a warrior class with the means to equip themselves and their households for war.

The powerful iconography of these standard finials remains mysterious though undeniably hypnotic. Most probably offered as votives to the local gods, they depict scenes from a mythology which was never written down. The central image involves a god/hero who has power over threatening beasts and monsters. Are these meant to reflect the perils of the natural world, or the dangers of the unknown realm of death? Even as these questions remain unanswered, we are caught by the stylized, abstract beauty of the art itself. - (FZ.030)


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