- Museum number
Copper alloy disc-headed dress pin with the top of the shank hammered out to form a flat disk which is decorated in low repoussé with a stylised floral wreath, possibly incorporating lotus blossoms, arranged as a halo around a low raised central rosette with rounded petals radiating from a small umbo; this design is enclosed within two plain concentric raised bands and an outer row of raised dots.
- Production date
Diameter: 12.30 centimetres (head)
Diameter: 4.75 inches
Height: 41.40 centimetres
Height: 16.38 inches
Weight: 78 grammes
- Curator's comments
May have been worn with point facing upwards; this type of pin sometimes placed as votive deposits within sanctuary walls as at Surkh Dum-i Luri. Compare: P.R.S. Moorey, 'Catalogue of the Persian Bronzes in the Ashmolean', 212-13; A. Godard: 'Les Bronzes du Luristan' (Paris 1931), pl. XXXIV, no. 145.
This object was published as WAA [Western Asiatic Antiquities] Slide 58.
Original catalogue entry by St J. Simpson for Cernuschi loan (2008)
Disc-headed dress pin
About 9th-8th century BC
Length 41.4, Diameter of head 12.3 cm, Weight 78 g
Moorey 1974: 49, pl. XV.B; Tait 1986: no. 81.d
London, The British Museum, 132025 (ME 1955,1008.1)
Purchased from E.T. Safani in 1955
Copper alloy disc-headed dress pin with the top of the shank hammered out to form a flat disk. This is decorated in low repoussé with a stylised floral wreath arranged as a halo around a low raised central rosette with rounded petals radiating from a small umbo; this design is enclosed within two plain concentric raised bands and an outer row of raised dots.
Very similar decorated pins are represented in other collections and from excavations at Dum Surkh but, unlike the present pin, these are usually decorated with alternating fruits and buds (cf. Buhl 1968: 99-100, no. 236, inv. nr. 9191; Moorey 1971: 211-13, nos 357-60; Schmidt, van Loon & Curvers 1989: 323-25, pls 195-98, 205). This type of disc-headed pin is probably contemporary with the pins with openwork cast heads: they share the same iconography but it was easier to create more elaborate compositions through chasing than it was through modelling in wax for casting. However, there are probably also many more fakes of this type. They average between 15 and 20 cm in length although some are as little as 8.5 cm, and the present example is exceptionally long. However, despite its size this pin is not particularly heavy and it could have been worn with a thick cloak or a fur, and the swelling at the top of the shank was probably designed to fasten it securely.
Many similar pins were found inserted into the walls of a sanctuary at Dum Surkh, hence were termed “epingles votives” by Godard, and may have been dedicated there along with clothes and other textiles as was the custom in Greece. The fact that the similar floral wreath designs recur not only on Assyrian and Iranian wall tiles but also on Assyrian representations of garments reinforces a connection between these pins and textiles. One of these pins shows a seated figure grappling a pair of snakes and wearing a long belted gown with fringed bottom and two long disc-headed pins at the front, each with the point upwards (Schmidt, van Loon & Curvers 1989: pl. 210.a), and the same detail is shown a second fragment acquired via the art market and now in the Rietberg Museum in Zurich (Calmeyer 1995: 38, fig. 15). Although other pins of this type are known from the art market (eg. Godard 1931: pl. XXXIV, no. 145), they were not found in the cemeteries investigated by the Belgian Archaeological Expedition to Luristan. Nevertheless, pairs of smaller toggle pins were found in two early Iron Age tombs at Duruyeh which supports the idea that that they were worn in pairs and used as dress pins (Overlaet 2003: pls 129-30). This tradition ended by the 8th century BC when fibulae began to be used instead as a form of safety pin.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2008 9 Feb-22 Jun, Paris, Musée Cernuschi, "Bronzes du Luristan. Mystères de l'Iran ancien. IIIe-Ier millénaire avant notre ère".
1995-2005 17 Nov-8 Dec, BM, G52/IRAN/18/21.
1975-1990 Jul-Dec, BM, Iranian Room [IR], case 5, no. 18.
Persian Landing, case 1.
- Fair; complete; decorated surface cleaned in 2007; reverse left in original condition with light corrosion and adhering sediment.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Deposited on 13 April 1955 together with a bronze bowl and a second bronze pin (both returned 7/9/55) and "1 bronze lion" (returned 26/4/57), all offered for possible purchase (deposit book entry 933). This object (132025) is described as "the round-headed 'Luristan' bronze pin" in the original letter of offer from the vendor (ME Corres, 1955, q.v. Safani) and is purchased by Gadd for the asking price.
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number