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Plaque with horned lion-griffins

ca. 6th–4th century B.C.
H. 13.6 cm, W. 9.8 cm
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1954
Accession Number:
  • Description

    In the sixth century B.C., under the leadership of Cyrus the Great, the Persians established themselves at the head of an empire that would eventually extend from eastern Europe and Egypt to India. The Achaemenid Period is well documented by the descriptions of Greek and Old Testament writers and by abundant archaeological remains.

    Like the Achaemenid gold vessel decorated with the forepart of a lion also in the Museum's collection, this ornament depicts the winged lion-monster but here two creatures are shown rampant. In place of the lion's ears they have those of a bull. Horns curl back over spiky manes and the lion's neck is covered with a feather pattern. Sharply stylized wings extend over two of the five bosses and serve as decorative balace for the design. Heavy rings attached to the back suggest that the ornament was worn on a leather belt. the similar treatment of the lion motif on different types of objects demonstrates decorative conventions of the period.

  • Provenance

    Ex-collection of Khalil Rabenou, New York; by 1952, Kevorkian collection; acquired by the Museum in 1954, purchased from The Kevorkian Foundation, New York.

  • Exhibition History

    "Origin and Influence, Cultural Contacts: Egypt, the Ancient Near East, and the Classical World." The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, December 18, 1970–April 23, 1971.

    "Profil du Metropolitan Museum of Art de New York: de Ramsès à Picasso," Galerie des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux, May 15–September 1, 1981.

  • References

    "Additions to the Collections." Eighty-Fourth Annual Report of the Trustees for the Year 1953, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 13 (1) (Summer 1954), p. 17.

    Illustrated London News, 16 April 1955, p. 699.

    Wilkinson, Charles K. 1955. "Assyrian and Persian Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 13 (7), p. 223.

    Ghirshman, Roman. 1964. The Arts of Ancient Iran. New York: Golden Press, 1964. p. 266, fig. 327.

    Hoving, Thomas, and Carmen Gómez-Moreno. 1972-1973. "Gold." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 31 (2), Winter 1972/1973, p. 80.

    Muscarella, Oscar W. 1980. "Excavated and Unexcavated Achaemenid Art." In Ancient Persia: The Art of an Empire (Invited Lectures on the Middle East at the Unviersity of Texas at Austin, Vol. 4), edited by Denise Schmandt-Besserat. Malibu: Undena Publications, p. 33, fig. 12.

    Galerie des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux. 1981. Profil du Metropolitan Museum of Art de New York: de Ramsès à Picasso, exh. cat., no. 23, p. 47.

    Harper, Prudence O. et al. 1984. "Ancient Near Eastern Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 41 (4), Spring 1984, p. 27, fig. 31.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History