Head of a pin in form of a winged horse


Not on view

This winged horse carved in the round has a compact and simplified form, with an emphasis on decorative patterning. The head is small in proportion to the body and the neck appears to wear a collar. Hatched and zig-zag patterns indicate the mane, wing, underbelly, and the lower edges of the legs, while dot and circle motifs mark the eye, shoulder, belly and thigh. The flattened rear has a drilled hole that originally held a metal pin. Pins of this type, made of a recumbent animal joined to a pin in another material, have been found throughout western Iran and can be compared to the well-known bronze and iron lion pins from Hasanlu, of which there are eight in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum (61.100.10-.15; 63.109.5; 63.109.6). This suggests that the Surkh Dum pin was not imported, but rather made in Luristan, and thus its distinctive carving style can be assigned to the region.

In three weeks of excavation at Surkh Dum, Erich Schmidt and the Holmes Expedition to Luristan uncovered a circular mud-brick structure with a platform in the center, perhaps a sanctuary or shrine. The building contained a wealth of objects of bronze, ivory, bone, faience, and ceramic, as well as about two hundred cylinder and stamp seals, most dating from the ninth to the eighth century B.C. Some of the objects, however, were heirlooms of considerably earlier date. In spite of its brevity, the excavation at Surkh Dum is important for having uncovered objects from a settlement site rather than from one of the cemeteries more commonly found in Luristan.

Head of a pin in form of a winged horse, Ivory, Iran

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