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:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 405
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.
Ex-collection of Khalil Rabenou, New York; by 1952, Kevorkian collection; acquired by the Museum in 1954, purchased from The Kevorkian Foundation, New York.

“Assyrian and Persian Art,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, March 25, 1955–January 22, 1956.

“Sept Mille Ans d’Art en Iran,” Musée du Petit Palais, Paris, Villa Hügel, Essen, Kunsthaus Zürich, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague,
Palazzo Reale, Milan, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., Denver Art Museum, William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art, Kansas City, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Cleveland Museum of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, Pennsylvania, 1961–1966.

“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.

“Gold,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, April 14–September 9, 1973.

“Profil du Metropolitan Museum of Art de New York,” Galerie des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux, France, May 15–September 1, 1981.

“’A Seal Upon Thine Heart’: Glyptic Art of the Ancient Near East, ca. 3500–2100 B.C.,” The Pierpont Morgan Library and Museum, New York, January 7–April 26, 1998.

“’A Seal Upon Thine Heart, Part II’: Glyptic Art of the Ancient Near East.” The Pierpont Morgan Library and Museum, New York, April 30, 1998–August 15, 1998.

"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.

"Assyrian and Persian Gold and Silver: Masterpieces from Recent Dicoveries, in the Metropolitan Museum, New York." Illustrated London News, April 16, 1955, p. 699.

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

Ghirshman, Roman. 1961. Sept Mille ans d'Art en Iran, exh. cat. Paris: Petit Palais, p. 112, no. 669.

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.