FINIALS

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BRONZE AGE ON THE EURASIAN STEPPE SECTIONS:

 

 

LURISTAN FINIALS

 

Finials  topped standards and flagpoles carried onto the battlefield and in state ceremonies. As here, they frequently depict the “master of the beasts”, gods ancient beyond memory who have control over the animal world. Heroes such as Gilgamesh in the Sumerian epic share this power as well. Though we do not always comprehend the full meaning of such pieces, their primal energy radiates across the ages.

The absence of relevant written records makes their complex imagery difficult to interpret in specific religious terms but it is likely that they represent local deities of some kind. It has been suggested that such elaborate bronze items must have been the preserve of the tribal leaders, a warrior class with the means to equip themselves and their households for war.

Gods and goddesses who control wild animals are as old as civilization itself, perhaps reflecting some innate human desire to rise above the natural world. In this particularly splendid example–in which the distinctions between woman and beast are delightfully blurred–a young goddess holds two rather mysterious animals by their necks, while the lower half of the finial takes the form of leopard haunches with curling tails. This is an abstract image which evokes a variety of emotions, most of them mysterious, primal, older than memory

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IMAGE CITATION:

1.  Griffin Protome, 10th-8th centuries B.C.

Bronze: molding, hammering

2. (in text) Bronze Finial, 12th-6th centuries B.C.

Bronze: molding

3. Mirror, 800-700 B.C.

Bronze: hammering, molding

4. Mirror, 8th-7th centuries B.C.

Bronze: hammering, molding

 

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