- Museum number
Copper alloy horse-bit with decorated cheekpieces; hammered bar bit, twisted at the ends in oppsite directions; lost-wax cast cheek-pieces in the form of human-headed horned and winged figures, possibly sphinxes; pair of loops on the upper reverse of each cheekpiec for attachment to the headstall, also a single low spike on the inside of each, just above the area corresponding to the rear legs, possibly serving to hold a leather lining; four slight projections on the lower edge of the base bar, roughly opposite each of the hooves, again possibly used for attaching a lining; complete, corroded.
- Production date
- 9thC BC-8thC BC
Diameter: 9 inches
Height: 18.50 centimetres
Height: 7 inches
Length: 16 centimetres (of cheekpieces)
Weight: 1271.50 grammes
Width: 12.50 centimetres (interior, between cheekpieces)
- Curator's comments
This piece is unusually large and therefore proportionally heavier than most other pieces of this type: however, the heavy wear in the holes imply that it was used. For other cheek-pieces with human-headed sphinxes cf. Godard 1931: pl. XLI, no. 167.
Original catalogue entry by St J. Simpson for Cernuschi loan (2008)
Horse bit with decorated cheek-pieces
About 9th-8th century BC
Height 18.5, Length 16 (of cheek-pieces), Width 12.5 cm (interior, between cheek-pieces)
Weight 1271.5 g
Kendrick 1931: pl. opp. p.24; Gadd 1952a: 58-59, pl. XXV.b; Moorey 1974: 47; Curtis 1989: 26-27, fig. 30
London, The British Museum, 130677 (ME 1945,1015.4)
Bequeathed by Oscar Charles Raphael (d. 1941) in 1945
Rigid copper alloy horse-bit with decorated cheek-pieces. The bit is in the form of a hammered bar with the ends twisted in opposing directions. The cheek-pieces were cast using the lost-wax technique and are in the form of horned and winged human-headed figures, possibly sphinxes. There is a pair of loops on the upper reverse of each cheek-piece for attachment to the headstall. There is also a single low spike on the inside of each cheek-piece, just above the area corresponding to the rear legs, and possibly served to hold a leather lining. Four slight projections on the lower edge of the base bar, roughly opposite each of the hooves, again were possibly intended for attaching a lining. This object is unusually large and therefore proportionally heavier than most other pieces of this type: however, the heavy wear in the holes imply that it was used rather than simply being a votive or display object. The scale and elaborate nature of the decoration suggest that this may date to Iron II (ca. 1000-800 BC) when the canonical Luristan style appears to have reached its zenith but this dating should be regarded as tentative in advance of more archaeological information.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2012 24 May-30 Sep, BM, 'The horse: from Arabia to Royal Ascot'
2010 29 May-15 Oct, USA, Kentucky Horse Park, 'A Gift from the Desert'
2008 9 Feb-22 Jun, Paris, Musée Cernuschi, 'Bronzes du Luristan. Mystères de l'Iran ancien. IIIe-Ier millénaire avant notre ère'
1996 'Furusiyya' (cancelled)
1995-2005 17 Nov-14 Dec, BM, G52/IRAN/17/8
1994 Jul-Dec, BM, G49/IRAN/17
1975-1990 Jul-Dec, BM, Iranian Room [IR], case 6, no. 19
Persian Landing [PL], wall-case [WC] 1, bottom shelf
Iranian Room, wall-case [WC] 4/3.
- Fair; complete; old green corrosion
- Acquisition date
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number