Height: 8.000 inches
Miss E.T. Turner Bequest excavations
Room 72: Ancient Cyprus
Ivory mirror handle
Late Bronze Age, about 1200-1100 BC
From Tomb 17, Enkomi, Cyprus
A warrior stabbing a griffin and a lion attacking a bull
This beautifully carved and decorated handle must originally have been attached to a circular bronze hand-mirror belonging to a wealthy individual, which accompanied them to the grave.
In common with most Cypriot ivories of the Late Bronze Age, the decoration shows a mixture of influences from east and west. The lion attacking the bull is a familiar motif in Mycenaean art, while the theme of a warrior slaying a griffin owes its inspiration to Western Asia.
The scene is particularly vivid: the warrior, elaborately dressed and armed, lunges towards the griffin, which throws back its head in a despairing attitude. The outcome of the contest - the death of the griffin - is in no doubt. The theme may derive from a now unknown tale of heroism: the underlying symbolism is perhaps connected to the idea of man's defeat of the forces of chaos.
C. d'Albiac, 'The griffin combat theme' in Ivory in Greece and the Easter, British Museum Occasional Paper 85 (, 1992), pp. 105-12
J-Cl. Courtois and J. and E. Lagarce, Enkomi et le Bronze Récent à C (Nicosia, Impr. Zavallis, 1986)