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.

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Ivory mirror handle

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More information

Bibliography

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)

Dimensions

Height: 8.000 inches

Museum number

GR 1897.4-1.872

GAA3073

Miss E.T. Turner Bequest excavations

Location

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