Candlestick Base with Interlacing Dragons

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 199

The central band of three densely decorated zigzag bands consists of pairs of confronted winged dragons with knotted serpentine bodies, feline forelegs, and tails ending in interlacing dragons’ heads. The dragon with an open mouth and knotted snakelike body may relate to the devastating pseudo-planets al-Jawzahr and Nawbahr, which were thought to cause solar and lunar eclipses by devouring the sun and moon. It has also been connected to ancient Central Asian and Mesopotamian beliefs regarding dragons, which have been subject to a range of interpretations, from potency to royalty and harmony to protection. Such meanings are confirmed by the benedictory and apotropaic inscriptions, as well as the luxurious medium.

Candlestick Base with Interlacing Dragons, Brass; inlaid with silver and copper

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