Horse bit from Luristan
Luristan horse bit with horse-shaped cheek pieces
8th century BC.
Iron Age III of Luristan.
The bronze horse bit is made of a straight square profile rod with curled ends. Sliding cheek pieces are mounted on the bit. They have the shape of a highly stylized horse. Each piece consists of two open work triangles joined at a corner. The joint is formed like a circular loop attaching the pieces to the rod. One terminal triangle side is elongated and sculptured into a horse head. The double triangles form the stylized animal body.
The nomadic people of Luristan were masterly horse breeders. No wonder that many beautiful horse harnesses were casted when bronze artworking was thriving in Western Iran. This bit was part of such a horse harness. The rein was attached to the curled ends and the cheek pieces made a fine decoration when the horse was biting the rod. This can be seen in a detail of the Lachish reliefs which were made in neighbouring Assyria almost at the same time as this horse bit (cf. drawing in the slider gallery, taken from Peltenburg, Western Asiatic Antiquities, after Porada 1965, 85, plate 21 bottom).
Even the changing fashion around 700 BC becomes clear in comparison. Our horse bit has an early type of Luristan zoomorphic cheek pieces. They were highly stylized. By the time of the Lachish reliefs naturalistic cheek pieces were fashionable. That means the horse bit presented here sheds light on the very beginnings of horse breeding and the elaborate horse harnesses of Luristan.
The rod is 20cm long. The cheek pieces are 7.3cm long and 6.9cm high.
Near perfect condition. Very well preserved metal with beautiful polychrome patina. Modern text painted in red "63.2.49b". Including modern stand for ideal presentation.
Acquired by us in 2019 from G. Vandervort, USA. Previously in US-American private ownership. Acquired in 2016 in a US-American auction house. Previously in US-American private ownership. Acquired from the inventory of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, inventory no. 63.2.49b. Added to the museum collection in 1967.
The os Angeles County Museum of Art became independant in 1965 and was previously associated with the Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science and Art founded in 1913. The collection was then managed to serve educational, aesthetic and cultural purposes. The museum policy is developing the collection to meet the requirements of the curators and the audience by well-planned purchases and deaccessions.
Cf. G. Zahlhaas, Luristan - Antike Bronzen aus dem Iran, p. 53f, no. 101.
For a slightly later specimen cf. E. Peltenburg, Western Asiatic Antiquities, p. 101, no. 72.
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