Lot 1570: Western Asiatic Neo-Assyrian Ivory Lion Head Knife Pommel
December 8, 2016
London, United KingdomLive Auction
Description: 900-700 BC. An ivory carving of a lion's head, mouth slightly open and with teeth bared; detailing of fur around the head and mane, whiskers curving down from the nostrils; wide expressive eyes and ears laid back; socket to the rear; mounted on a custom-made stand. For a similar piece see The British Museum, accession number 134320 38 grams total, 17cm total (2 3/4"). Property of a North American gentleman; formerly in a German collection, acquired from M. Yeganeh, Frankfurt, prior to 1980. Lions feature prominently in Assyrian art, most notably the famous wall panels from the palace at Nineveh now in the British Museum depicting the royal lion hunt. In ancient Assyria, lion-hunting was considered the sport of kings, symbolic of the ruling monarch?s duty to protect and fight for his people. as well as being a creature to conquer they also had a protective role, due to its obvious ferocious nature. They are found as sculptures guarding the doorways to palaces and temples, and small scale pieces in the form of lions, or lion heads, formed fittings for furniture and jewellery. This piece would possibly have formed a hilt for a dagger and would have been a costly and important statement piece for an Assyrian noble. A relief from the palace of Ashurnasirpal II shows the king wearing a dagger at his waist and which has the scabbard decorated with two rampant lions.
Condition Report: Very fine condition.