A “master-of-animals” standard or idol

The upper part of a standard made in bronze being a composition of human and fantastic figures.

The artefact displays a scene which is recurrent and of significance in the ancient art of the Near East, the “master-of-animals”. This is a symmetrical composition in which a male figure forms the central axis and holds two fiendish creatures by the neck. Below this, on the central axis, we see two birds, one beside the other.

At the beginning of the first millennium BC the inhabitants of the mountainous regions of western Iran, the region known as Luristan, created an amazing variety of bronze objects including arms, standards, jewellery, decorations for horses, bowls and dishes. The majority have been recovered in burial contexts.

The nature of the society which produced these artefacts, as well as the language and the political organization is not known to us, although it is believed that the society was for the most part nomadic. The use of these standards is not clear but it seems significant that the few existing examples of this type have been found in tombs.


- MAHBOUBIAN, Haushang. Art of Ancient Iran, copper and bronze. 1997.

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