Ancient Near East, Achaemenid Persian Empire, ca. 700 to 330 BCE. An elegant rhyton whose thin walls and exquisite form suggest a high level of artistic skill for its maker. The mouth of the rhyton is wide and round, with a sharply delineated lip and slightly overhanging vertical rim. The conical body of the vessel tapers to a narrow neck with an antelope's head at an obtuse angle extending from one side. The head is stylized, with long divots for eyes, horizontally projecting ears, and, dominating the portrayal, two twisted, incised horns. The long, cylindrical snout of the creature is a spout, with a round hole meant to be held closed with a finger when the rhyton wasn't being raised above the head to take a drink of its libations. Size: 4.8" W x 5.75" H (12.2 cm x 14.6 cm); 7.35" H (18.7 cm) on included custom stand.
The rhyton form is ancient, developed from a drinking horn, and first seen in Iran during the Amlash period around 1000 BCE. It requires total devotion to drinking, as it has no feet or stopper, so must be held constantly when full of liquid. The antelope, as a horned animal, is often linked to plant, animal, and human fertility, and was a very common decorative motif in the ancient Near East and Central Asia.
Provenance: private Secaucus, New Jersey, USA collection; ex-Neil Phillips collection, New York, New York, USA, acquired in the 1990s
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