A highly desirable finial or standard top, cast in the form of a tube which is modelled in the form of two rampant and symmetrical felines, possibly lions or panthers, with a rather large eye on each side of their heads. This type of finial belongs to the earliest stage of their development (see Overlaet, p. 333-334 and figure 5).
Interestingly, and almost modern, the side profiles of the animal heads form an additional head, which is easier to detect once one looks at the eyes of the two animals and considers them to be the two eyes of one person. The backs of the felines then become the shoulders and torso of this figure, and its lower part seems to be that of an animal, with crooked legs, a phenomenon that can frequently be observed on such standards, especially those that belong to the later category of what has often be called (confusingly, see Moorey 1971, p.154) the "Master of the Animals".
In ancient times such objects would have been joined to a separate standard, a pole or other support. In this case it is supported by a tapering bell-shaped stand, which may or may not be originally belonging.
It is not known with certainty how such standards were used, but attention has been drawn to the fact that this type of object has only been found in graves, which may be significant.
- Nicholas Engel a.o. (eds.), Bronzes du Luristan. Énigmes de l'Iran Ancien, IIIe-Ier millénaire av. J.C. (Paris, Musées; Musée Cernuschi, 2008), p. 180-186;
- Houshang Mahboubian, The Art of Ancient Iran: Copper and Bronze (London, Philip Wilson Publishers, 1997), p. 128-133, nos. 110, 112-113, 115; p. 136, no. 120; p. 154, no. 150; p. 163, nos. 166-167;
- P.R.S. Moorey, Catalogue of the Ancient Persian Bronzes in the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1971);
- Oscar White Muscarella, Bronze and Iron. Ancient Near Eastern Artifacts in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1988), p. 136-154, esp. p 144-145, nos. 219-221;
- Bruno Overlaet, “Luristan Metalwork in the Iron Age” in T. Stöllner, R. Slotta, A. Vatandoust (eds.) Persia's Ancient Splendour, Mining, Handicraft and Archaeology (Bochum, Deutsches Bergbau Museum, 2004), p. 328–338;
- Eric de Waele, Bronzes du Luristan et d'Amlash, ancienne collection Godard (Louvain-la-Neuve, Institut supérieur d'archeologie et d'histoire de l'art, 1982), p. 93-121, esp. p. 95-97, figs. 77-78, nos. 108-113; p. 109-112, figs. 88-91;
- Phil Watson, Luristan Bronzes in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (Birmingham, Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery, 2011), p. 2-4, fig. 1.
Circa 9th-8th century B.C.
Height circa 24 cm without the modern base.
Provenance: Collection of Dr. Stanley F. Yolles, Stony Brook, New York, acquired in 1974; thereafter with Arte Primitivo, New York, 28 June 2004, lot 9; thereafter Dutch private collection.
In excellent condition with a deep red-brown patina and some blue-green encrustration. The pin has been replaced by an ancient straight fibula. A beautiful example, on a custom made square metal stand.