A pair of rein-holders stylized as panthers

A pair of free-standing rein-holders each fashioned in the form of a panther. They are depicted seated on their haunches, each with one foreleg raised to form a ring through which the chariot rein would pass. The stylized anatomical details of the animals stand out for their elegance, particularly the heads of the beasts.

These bronze chariot rein rings, apart from their technical use, were also aesthetic elements used to decorate the horse-pulled chariots. The artistic quality of the pieces varied according to the wealth of the owner.

Bronze was one of the materials most commonly used for tableware and daily objects in the Roman period. It was even used to make small pieces of cast and embossed household objects such as the brasero heater found in the temple of Isis in Pompeii, which stands of four legs in the form of feline paws. Bronze was also used for making most of the armour that soldiers wore on parade.

This piece was made using the lost wax technique, a technique in sculpture where a mould is first made from a prototype traditionally sculpted in beeswax. This is covered by a thick layer of soft material, usually clay, which solidifies. Once this is done it is fired in an oven where the wax melts and comes out of the mould through specially made perforations. Molten metal is then injected into the mould and takes on its exact form. To release the final piece the mould must be removed.

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