Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Openwork stamp seal: figure holding snakes

Period:
Bronze Age
Date:
ca. late 3rd–early 2nd millennium B.C.
Geography:
Bactria-Margiana
Culture:
Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex
Medium:
Copper alloy
Dimensions:
H. 9.1 cm
Classification:
Metalwork-Stamp Seals
Credit Line:
Purchase, David L. Klein Jr. Memorial Foundation Inc. Gift and Gift of Lester Wolfe, by exchange, 1984
Accession Number:
1984.4
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 403
Western Central Asia, now known as Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and northern Afghanistan, has yielded objects attesting to a highly developed civilization in the late third and early second millennium B.C. Artifacts from the region indicate that there were contacts with Iran to the southwest.

Openwork copper or bronze stamp seals, often called "compartmented" seals, were cast in both geometric and figural patterns in Bactria-Margiana and are distinctive to that region. This copper-alloy example represents a male figure dressed in a short kilt and mountain boots with upturned toes. If his horned headdress is similar in meaning to examples found in Mesopotamia and Iran, the figure may be divine. The arrow-shaped forms emerging from his shoulders and under his arm may represent snakes or lightning bolts.
[Sotheby's New York, May 20, 1982, no.16]; from 1982, on loan to the Museum by Lester Wolfe (L.1982.63.2); acquired by the Museum in 1984, purchased from the Estate of Lester Wolfe, New York.

"Art of the First Cities: The Third Millennium B.C. from the Mediterranean to the Indus," The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, May 8–August 17, 2003.

Sotheby's. 1982. Fine Classical, Egyptian and Near Eastern Antiquities. 20 May 1982, New York, lot 16.

Annual Report of the Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 114 (Jul. 1,1983 - Jun. 30, 1984), p. 19.

Pittman, Holly. 1984. Art of the Bronze Age: Southeastern Iran, Western Central Asia, and the Indus Valley. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 56-57, fig. 26b.

Pittman, Holly, in collaboration with Joan Aruz. 1987. Ancient Art in Miniature: Near Eastern Seals from the Collection of Martin and Sarah Cherkasky. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p.33, fig. 18.

Ligabue, Giancarlo, and Sandro Salvatori, eds. 1988. Bactria: An Ancient Oasis Civilization from the Sands of Afghanistan. Studies and documents IIII. Venezia: Erizzo, fig. 52.

Baghestani, Susanne. 1997. Metallene Compartimentsiegel aus Ost-Iran, Zentralasien und Nord-China. Archäologie in Iran and Turan, Bd. 1. Rahden/Westf.: Leidorf, no. 3, pp. 100, 103, 164, fig. 17, pl. 1.

Aruz, Joan. 2003. "Art and Interconnections in the Third Millenniun B.C." In Art of the First Cities: The Third Millennium B.C. from the Mediterranean to the Indus, exh. cat. edited by Joan Aruz, with Ronald Wallenfels. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 250, note 81.

Goodarzi, Shoki. 2003. "Stamp seals with figures and animals." In Art of the First Cities: The Third Millennium B.C. from the Mediterranean to the Indus, exh. cat. edited by Joan Aruz, with Ronald Wallenfels. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 220a-g, p. 322, note 6.
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