Illustrated introduction to Mesopotamia, £8.99
Height: 17.700 cm
Bequest of Henry Finnis Blosse Lynch
Bronze standard finial
Luristan culture, about 10th-7th century BC
From western Iran
The region of Luristan was home to a rich tradition of bronze-working in the early part of the first millennium BC. Virtually all known examples come from plundered cemeteries of stone-built graves. These vary considerably in date, but are predominantly of about 1000-700BC. At a number of sites, bronzes were also deposited in shrines.
The bronzes were cast using the lost wax process, and a wide range of types was produced. Objects such as this are amongst the most unusual. They are unique to this region of Iran, and their use remains mysterious. They seem not to be part of a larger object, but to be complete in themselves. They are identical from each side, and have something of the look of a battle or processional standard, as known from Assyrian reliefs, though they seem rather small for this purpose.
This example appears to be made up of a man wearing an elaborate headdress in the form of the 'master of animals', a figure symmetrically flanked by wild animals that he subdues. This image is found elsewhere in Luristan art and is known widely through the Near East.
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)