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HOME : Near Eastern Art : Archive : Luristan Bronze Standard Finial
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Luristan Bronze Standard Finial - X.0371
Origin: Iran
Circa: 900 BC to 600 BC

Collection: Near Eastern
Medium: Bronze

Additional Information: SOLD

Location: Great Britain
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The Luristan region of Western Iran is named after the Lurs, a tribal people who raise horses and cattle. However, in artistic circles, the name Luristan is synonymous with the Bronze Age culture that flourished on these lands many centuries ago and left behind a fantastic assortment of mysterious bronze sculptures and horse trappings. Modern scholars date the creation of these bronzes anywhere from as early as the 12th Century B.C. until as late as the 7th Century B.C. While it is thought that they were produced during a relatively short time, this theory has not been proven. Scholars also debate who created these works. Some attribute them to the Kassites while others believe they were made by the Cimmerians, thus partly explaining the discrepancies in dating. Of the bronze artifacts that survive today, there are two primary groups: horse trappings and standard finials. The horse trappings and harness fittings are likely the most famous type of Luristan work. The other main type is the standard finial that depicts a figure known as the “master of the beasts.” This janus-headed figure who grapples with interweaving beasts and serpents likely represents a long forgotten deity. These mythological horned monsters do not frighten, but delight with their intricate details and highly stylized forms; today, they are one of the hallmarks of Luristan art.

This lovely bronze sculpture from Ancient Luristan is related to the group of standard finials although its form and function are slightly different. Instead of the characteristic “master of the beast” figure, here we see what might best be described as a “mistress of the beasts.” She is a solitary figure whose body conforms to the shape of the tube. She cups her hands over her breast, emphasizing her femininity and fertility. While little of her lower body is articulated, her vagina is clearly indicated, again to heighten the sense of her fecundity. She takes the form of a hollow tube into which a pole would have once been inserted, perhaps to help identified a group of warriors or a tribe on the field of battle. Some scholars believe that these works may have served as votive idols to be worshipped within the private confines of the home. This theory certainly appear to be more relevant to the fertility imagery of this work.
- (X.0371)


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