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Identification and Creation
Object Number
Plaque in the Form of a Winged, Horned Quadruped
Work Type
1st Millennium CE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Mixed copper alloy
7.9 x 11.1 x 0.4 cm (3 1/8 x 4 3/8 x 1/8 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Mixed Copper Alloy:
Cu, 75.98; Sn, 3.9; Pb, 13.84; Zn, 4.01; Fe, 0.76; Ni, 0.11; Ag, 0.06; Sb, 0.4; As, 0.88; Bi, 0.044; Co, 0.019; Au, less than 0.02; Cd, less than 0.002
J. Riederer

Technical Observations: The patina is black with spots of red. The surface is well preserved. It is slightly rough, but this could be the original condition.

The simple, flat, outline design, with raised detail lines and a flat, plain reverse, indicate that a durable model was used to make an impression in a clay casting mold. The raised lines could have been cut directly in this mold to add relief detail, and the rough texture of the lines supports this. Molten metal could have been poured into a one- or two-piece mold.

Henry Lie (submitted 2012)

Nelson Goodman, Weston, MA, gift; to the Harvard University Art Museums, 1995.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Nelson Goodman
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
This plaque shows a creature, perhaps a winged horse or a griffin, in profile walking left (1). The animal’s features are sharp and pointed. The plaque is stylized, and the few details are rendered using sharply raised lines. The animal has a point or horn indicated in the center of the brow. Ears, or perhaps a short mane, are indicated on the back of the head. The animal seems to have a long, thin nose rendered above the mouth; its eye is thin and pointed under an arched brow. A wave-shape with curving lines on the interior wing curls above the head. The animal’s stance is slightly crouched, with the front lower and the rump higher. All four legs are represented, and three to four separate toes are indicated on each leg. The animal has a long tail with a series of short, curved lines filling the interior. The legs and tail are all connected to a slightly irregular groundline with no internal features. The back is flat and featureless. This may have been an applique or other form of decorative plaque.


1. Compare a very close parallel in A. Salmony, Sino-Siberian Art in the Collection of C. T. Loo (Paris, 1933) pl. 43.5. This piece either formed a pair with the Harvard example (they are mirror images of each other) or was created by the same artist. Compare ibid., pl. 43.6, another similar plaque, although it represents a different animal, perhaps by the same artist. See also Treasures of the Eurasian Steppes: Animal Art from 800 BC to 200 AD, Ariadne Galleries (New York, 1998) no. 168, a plaque of similar style but with loops at the bottom that connect to a chain.

Lisa M. Anderson

Subjects and Contexts

Ancient Bronzes

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