Lot 27: Rare Double Ibex Luristan Bronze Whetstone Finial
October 27, 2016
Louisville, CO, USALive Auction
Ancient Near East, Luristan, ca. 1000 to 800 BCE. A cast bronze whetstone finial handle depicting a leaping ibex with a baby ibex perched upon her back, the body forming a cylindrical socket. Both ibexes (ibices) have elaborately modeled curved horns, the larger with 12 raised near spherical motifs on each horn, the smaller with a repeated double band motif. Both have raised circular eyes, pointed ears, and hairy beards. The mother ibex is further adorned with an ornamental ring around her neck. The molded spindly forelimbs are characteristically disproportionately small relative to their overall body size. The socket flares a bit toward its terminus which has a raised band. Circular holes near the end were created for attachment to the whetstone. Ordinary soldiers and people who would carry a knife to use as a weapon would carry a whetstone to sharpen the knife. However, an elite member of the community would have a special finial or handle like this example fitted to the whetstone. The double ibex iconography is also quite significant, as the ibex was an astronomical symbol of great importance from the earliest Near Eastern civilizations; some have suggested that it was at one time more important in Near Eastern iconography than the bull. What's more, some scholars have theorized that the animals depicted on Luristan weaponry were believed to possess apotropaic properties and could bestow their power on the objects they were sharpening. This example, featuring a double ibex, is extremely rare. While occasionally decorative bronze whetstone finials appear at auction, we have yet to see one displaying comparable artistry and elaborate detail. Custom, museum quality stand. Size: finial measures 3.75" W x 6.5" H (9.5 cm x 16.5 cm); 7.5" H (19.1 cm) on stand
Provenance: Ex-private East coast collection, ex NYC Auction
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Condition Report: Smaller figure reattached, crack in neck. Gorgeous green patina.