Ancient Near East, northwestern Iran, Luristan, ca. 1000 to 600 BCE. A gorgeous bronze cheek piece for a horse, cast via the lost wax (cire perdue) process, depicting a striding ibex. The animal is presented in profile with has four bent legs with pierced hooves, two of which are conjoined with a crossbar, a muscular body with a ringed perforation, a curled tail, and a thick neck. The head depicts circular eyes with radiating lashes, a pointed snout, tall slender ears, and a pair of elegant serpentine horns with minute incised striations. The exterior surfaces on both the obverse and reverse are coated in lustrous layers of green, blue-green, and azurite patina. Custom museum-quality display stand included. Size: 4.875" W x 4.4" H (12.4 cm x 11.2 cm); 4.75" H (12.1 cm) on included custom stand.
The affluent group in Luristan society that patronized the metalworking industry and purchased decorative items like this were nomadic horsemen. They would travel into towns and from there purchase bronze and iron objects from craftsmen. Although these horsemen were pre-literate, we know from the records of the Elamites and other southern neighbors that they were mercenaries in the constant warfare between the Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Elamites. When they died, they were buried in rock-covered tombs with their metal items like these.
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection
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Figure's front left hoof reattached, and back left hoof slightly broken but still attached. Surface wear and abrasions commensurate with age, slight bending to overall form, fading to finer incised details, and some roughness across most surfaces. Light earthen deposits and beautiful green, blue-green, and azurite patina throughout.