- Museum number
Copper alloy incense-burner; cast; square receptacle with broad flat-topped rim on three sides, rim surmounted by four (one missing) quadrupeds, consisting of two ibexes at the front (one missing) and two unidentified animals behind, the area of rim between decorated with parallel or cross-hatched lines; the front of this receptaclke is lower than the back and sides and has a ridged rim; the bottom of the receptacle rests on four short legs; a long handle, made separately, is attached to the back of this receptacle; the handle has a circular section and is again decorated with quadrupeds on the top, consisting of two ibexes facing forward and an unidentified quadruped facing in the opposite direction behind; the end of the handle terminates in the head of an antlered stag, with a circular ring beneath; the surfaces have apparently been stripped of all patina to reveal shiny metal throughout.
- Production date
- 1stC-3rdC (?)
Height: 7.62 centimetres (bowl)
Length: 29.85 centimetres
Weight: 593 grammes
- Curator's comments
- This object was described by Herzfeld as a "sacrificial shovel" and "from the Hamadan region" in one article ("Animal design in prehistoric Persian art", 'The Illustrated London News', 8 June 1929, p. 983) but later stated to be from Shahriyar ('Iran in the Ancient East', London 1941, p. 175). A closely related piece was offered at auction through Christie's London ('Antiquities', 25 October 2006, p.9 = lot 11), reportedly from a European collection formed from the 1930s onwards. A very similar object in the Joseph Ternbach collection (R. Merhav et al., 1981: 'A Glimpse into the Past: The Joseph Ternbach Collection', Jerusalem: The Israel Museum (Cat.281), pp. 128-29, cat. no. 97) was interpreted as having been used in cultic ceremonies and provisionally dated to the mid-second millennium BC or later on the basis of the loose comparison of the animal figures with "Luristan bronzes". A third, fragmentary, example was exhibited in the Iranian Exhibition in Vienna in 1963, where it was dated to the first half of the second millennium BC and described as a "Räucherschale". A loosely related type of Parthian date consists of a circular bowl with long loop-ended handle: one was excavated in the Germi region by S. Kambakhsh Fard.
Cf. 7000 Jahre Kunst in Iran, no. 211.
Cf. a supposedly similar object in the National Museum in Madrid; referred to by Culican in "Oriental Studies presented to B.S.J. Isserlin", pp. 90-91, n.27.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
Persian Landing [PL], wall-case [WC] 1, bottom shelf
Iranian Room [IR], wall-case [WC] 4/2.
- Fabric stripped to bare metal.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Herzfeld purchased this object in Tehran on 10 September 1923 for the sum of 170 [rupees] according to his Notebook 89, where it is entered as item 1676 and described as being from Rayy or Shahrizur (Freer Gallery of Art & Arthur M. Sackler Gallery archives, Smithsonian Institution). The acquisition of this collection was highlighted in the 'Annual Report of the General Progress of the Museums for the year 1936' (BM BM (Natural History) 1937, pp. 10-11) as "A large collection of pottery, terracotta figurines, bronzes, seals and amulets, mainly from Persia, varying in date from before 3000 B.C., and for the most part from known sites; specially selected to illustrate periods not hitherto represented, or inadequately represented, in the collection".
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number