Myths from Persia, £8.99
Bronze pin decorated with an image of a goddess
Luristan culture, 10th-7th century BC
From western Iran
Elaborately decorated bronze pins of this kind are linked stylistically to the rich metalworking tradition of the region of Luristan in the mountains of western Iran. Virtually all the surviving bronzes come from plundered cemeteries of stone-built graves. These vary considerably in date, but predominantly belong early in the first millennium BC. At a number of sites, bronzes were also deposited in shrines.
While most Luristan bronzes are unique, they are related in decoration to a range of objects widely distributed in west Iran.
The heads of this pin has been hammered to form a disc, which has embossed decoration. The female figure grasping lions may represent a goddess.
Pins are particularly common among collections of Luristan bronzes. Although exotic bronze pins were made elsewhere in the Near East they are comparatively rare. They were used to fasten garments and in dressing the hair. In the shrine at Dum Surkh in Luristan, elaborate pins serving as votive gifts were inserted in the walls. The simpler pins, as in Greek sanctuaries, may have been dedicated with clothes, and south-west and western Iran was famous in antiquity for its textiles.
J. Curtis, Ancient Persia-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)
P.R.S. Moorey, Ancient bronzes from Luristan (London, The British Museum Press, 1974)