Luristan Bronze Repoussé Disc-Headed Pin with Master of Animals


A Luristan, cast bronze, disc-headed garment pin decorated in a symmetrical repoussé design. It’s large, circular head features a central face, framed by hatched hair and a beard and most likely representing a mask of a deity. Below the mask are two addorsed, advancing ibexes, each with a rosette above their back and a foliage motif before the chest. To the top, two rampant lions flank the ‘Master of Animals’ motif, which features pricked ears and a two-tiered headpiece. Two zoomorphic figures emerge from his cheeks and grasp onto the lions. The bodies of the lions and ibexes are segmented and decorated with linear patterns. The long, tapering shank is undecorated.

The pin is accompanied with a custom-made padded holder.

Date: Circa 1200-800 BC
Provenance: Acquired 1970s-1990s. Ex Rabi Gallery, Mayfair, London, U.K. From a specialist collection of pottery.
Condition: Fine condition. Chip to the edge. Minor cracks to the disc head. Patination to the surface. The pin weighs 90g alone. Total weight with the holder is indicated below.

In stock

Luristan objects are for the majority bronze cast items decorated with bronze sculptures and there have been many discovered in the Lorestān Province. This includes many weapons, tools and finials along with small amulets and fittings. The decorative technique is predominately openwork, with Scythian art influences. However, the identity of those who created these fine pieces are still unknown to this day. Animals were often featured as decoration, they ranged from mammals such as ibexes and large birds, to zoomorphic creatures including griffins. A prime and popular example is the ‘Master of Animals’, a supernatural protector of game, the ruler of the forest, and the guardian of the entire animal kingdom. He is depicted as a naked human figure standing between the heads, necks, and stylised bodies of zoomorphic creatures presented in profile. Likely to be a creation of the prehistoric Near East, the ‘Master of Animals’ remained popular in a number of variants for thousands of years. This imagery can be seen across many Mesopotamian civilisations.

The repoussé technique involves hammering the item from the reverse producing a raised design in low relief whilst chasing is creating the pattern by hammering into the item from the front. Many different metals can be used ranging from gold and silver to bronze and steel. During the Bronze Age in the Middle East, 3rd millennium BC, hammering materials was a common technique for decorating pieces.

To find out more about metalwork in Luristan and decorative techniques for metalworks, please see our relevant blog post: The Luristan Empire: Beauty of Bronze and Decorative Metalwork Techniques.

Weight 217 g
Dimensions W 11.8 x H 42.5 cm



Reference: For similar item, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, item number M.76.97.155.

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