Notebook, 1993-

[From: Porada, Edith [With the collaboration of R. H. Dyson and contributions by C.K. Wilkinson]. The Art of Ancient Iran, Pre-Islamic Cultures. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc. Art of the World. 1962.}

Preface --- 1.Geography and Trade --- 2.Beginnings of Art --- 3.The Art of The Early Urban Civilization --- 4.The Art of the Akkad and Post-Akkad Periods in Western Iran; Contemporary Art Works of North-Eastern Iran --- 5.The Art of the Elamites --- 6.The Bronzes of Luristan --- 8.Finds of The Late Second and Early First Millennium B.C. at Sialk Near Kashan --- 9.The Finds of Hasanlu - The Art of the Manneans --- 10.The Treasure of Ziwiye --- 11.The Art of the Medes --- 12.The Art of the Achaemenids --- 13.The Art of The Seleucids --- 14.The Art of the Parthians --- 15.Sasanian Art

The Art of Ancient Iran, Pre-Islamic

Chapter Six - Notes for this chapter

The few examples of Luristan bronzes of cast type shown here may suffice to give an idea of the fascination of these objects and of the tantalizing problems involved in probing into their date and meaning.

The work in repoussé from Luristan is perhaps even more arresting and even more difficult to place in time. We reproduce here a drawing of the lowest panel of a quiver plaque found at Surkh Dum. The motif of two bulls flanking a tree needs little comment since we have encountered it so often. In contrast to the relatively naturalistic rendering of the motif in a seal-ring, Figure 47, and a bowl, Plate 18, however, the bulls are rendered here in a more patternized manner. Their bodies are outlined by jeweled bands,[20] and more such bands seem to be wound around parts of the body, especially around the legs. The bodies therefore seem to be divided up in a rather unnatural manner. The effect obtained is not unlike that of the fragment of an Elamite tile in Figure 44. In the postures of the figures, especially in the arched neck, a relationship may also be felt with the elegant decorative style of Marlik discussed below [p. 94]. The design on the panel of the quiver from Surkh Dum, which seems a little even with the tile fragment from Susa, may be somewhat later than both these works, so that a date at the beginning of the first millennium may be suggested for the panel and naturally also for the quiver as a whole. This would put the object from Luristan at a time when we have postulated a general tendency for a geometric abstract style in seals and bronzes.

Some slight support for such a dating on stylistic grounds is provided by the pattern of multiple parallel lines in changing directions which marks one of the horizontal ridges dividing off the panels in the quiver plaque from Surkh Dum. The same pattern is found on the horizontal ridges which divide the registers in the beaker from Hasanlu, Plate 28, an object dated with some assurance in the ninth century B.C. [p. 88]

A fragmentary piece of repoussé work from Luristan, which may have come from a pin, shows in the rendering of a frontal positioned female figure, with what are probably her servants, a style which is related to that of the quiver from Surkh Dum, though it is here perhaps a little more exaggerated. The female figure probably represents a goddess between two trees with branches like those of a palm-tree and stems which have jeweled bands at more or less regular intervals. The servants of the deity, perhaps priests, seem to hold horned animals, of which only one is preserved. One may think again of the complex of goddess, horned animals and tree repeatedly recalled throughout this chapter. Beside the goddess there is a small goblin, probably the same creature also found on Elamite cylinders, on a cylinder from Luristan, and on another Luristan bronze.[21] On the other side of the goddess there is a rosette which fill the space but which may also have a specific meaning. The goddess herself wears gigantic disk-headed pins, the points of which project over her shoulders. This way of wearing pins is known from renderings on Greek vases, though there the pins are of normal size.[22]

The large goddess with her mask-like face, the priests or servants with their bushy hair, straggly beards, and curiously long noses with bulbous tip, wearing long, fringed garments with jeweled bands, seem to derive from a world so different from ours that its thoughts and aims may remain forever unknown to us. While there will probably always be some discussion concerning the identity of the people whose lively imagination, fine craftsmanship and interesting artistic sense were responsible for the production of the Luristan bronzes, we may not be far wrong in suggesting that craftsmanship in the Near East was usually handed down from generation to generation and that the craftsmen who worked for the political masters of Luristan [no matter who they were at a given period] --and who may have even tried to please their rulersÍ taste--were nevertheless people who continued an old and local tradition with motifs and techniques preserved over many centuries in what may have been to some extent one of the refuge areas of Iran.[23] [p. 89]

[Porada, Edith [With the collaboration of R. H. Dyson and contributions by C.K. Wilkinson]. The Art of Ancient Iran, Pre-Islamic Cultures. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc. Art of the World. 1962.]



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