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Identification and Creation
Object Number
Master of the Animals Finial
Other Titles
Former Title: Luristan Finial
Work Type
10th-8th century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia, Luristan (Iran)
Iron Age
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Cast, lost-wax process
18.7 x 6.2 x 2 cm (7 3/8 x 2 7/16 x 13/16 in.)
Diameter tube opening top and bottom: 0.6 cm (1/4 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Bronze:
Cu, 86.32; Sn, 11.7; Pb, 1.27; Zn, 0.005; Fe, 0.11; Ni, 0.05; Ag, 0.01; Sb, 0.09; As, 0.38; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, 0.057; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001
J. Riederer

Chemical Composition: XRF data from Tracer
Alloy: Bronze
Alloying Elements: copper, tin
Other Elements: lead, iron, arsenic
K. Eremin, January 2014

Technical Observations: Gray burial accretions cover most of the surface. Smaller areas of green and red and a well-preserved surface appear where the accretions have come off. The central pin used to secure the finial to a support (see 2005.78.A-C) is intact at the interior, but the pin is missing its top decorative portion and perhaps the tip.

As with the other Luristan finials, the irregular and fluid character of the design elements indicates direct work in the wax model. The wax would have been worked over a central cylindrical core, providing an open area for the tube or pin used to secure the finial to a support (see 2005.78.A-C).

All of the “Master of Animals” finials are heavier and have thicker walls than the finials that depict only animals. The wall thickness of this finial varies from 2 to 4 mm. The crisp incised decorative lines were cold worked in the metal surface. The broader grooves show fine striations indicating that they were cut abrasively or using a file-like edge.

Henry Lie (submitted 2012)

Offered by Mr. Peter Neuman. Originally a part of his mother's collection, Mrs. Elsa Schmid.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Peter G. Neumann
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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This “master of animals” finial depicts a stylized man with an (attacking?) animal on each side. The man has a bulb-shaped cap, open at the center for insertion of a pin, which is extant. The pin appears to have a spheroid top and tapers to a point at the bottom. The man, who is janiform (having the same face on front and back), has open, circular eyes, molded brows, and a prominent triangular nose. His ears are parabolic and prominent. His mouth is indicated by a small depression, and he has a pointed chin in low relief. The rest of the body consists of a cylinder, with a section of raised bands in the middle, perhaps indicating the waist. Above the banded area, at the point where the necks of the animals curve out from the body, is another face, mimicking the face at the top of the finial, but without ears and having more of a heart-shape.

The animals are highly stylized and resemble roosters more than lions. At the area where the lower head is, animal necks curve outward, beginning with raised bands, like the possible belt, with rooster heads curving downward below them, and ending in larger lion or rooster heads with long thin ears, raised circular eyes, and open mouths curving at top and bottom showing the curve of the beak or teeth on either side of the upper head. The animal heads all have a crest with three ridges on the top of the head. The smaller, lower heads have flat circular eyes surrounded by another circle and curving beaks. The animals’ bodies disappear beneath the banded area in the middle of the finial, and then their hindquarters curve out again below. They have spindly, stick-like lower legs, bent at angles with thick, rounded knee-joints and paws gripping the cylinder. Each has a long, thin tail ending in a single spiral. The areas between the animals’ legs are open; a long, flat strip is present from the hindquarters to the top of the paws where the cylinder is otherwise absent. The cylinder ends with one raised band at the bottom.
Subjects and Contexts

Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at