Standard-finials are some of the most distinctive examples of Luristan bronze production, reported from various parts of the region. Though they come in different and unique shapes, two main groups may be distinguished: confronted rampant animals with joined upper and lower bodies; and rampant animals conflated and cast in one with an anthropomorphic central tube. This piece belongs to the latter group, also known as 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. The precise function of these unusual objects is unknown, and remains one of the mysteries of antiquity. Suggestions range from the religious – depictions of deities, idols, talismans, etc. – to the utilitarian – adornments for chariots or articles used in funerary rituals.
To discover more about the Luristan Empire, please visit our relevant blog post: The Luristan Empire: Beauty of Bronze.