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Identification and Creation
Object Number
Cosmetic Stick with Ibex Finial
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Pin with Finial in the Form of an Ibex
Work Type
3rd century BCE-3rd century CE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia, Southwest Caspian Area (Iran)
Parthian period
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Cast, lost-wax process
9.2 x 3 x 0.6 cm (3 5/8 x 1 3/16 x 1/4 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Bronze:
Cu, 93.47; Sn, 5.51; Pb, 0.62; Zn, 0.01; Fe, 0.11; Ni, 0.05; Ag, 0.1; Sb, less than 0.02; As, 0.12; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, 0.009; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001
J. Riederer

Technical Observations: The patina is a variegated combination of greens, with some small more textured brown and blue areas; in a few spots, the metal is worn to the oxidized reddish-brown metal. The surface is smooth and devoid of much detail; it is unclear whether this is the result of wear or cleaning.

The object is a solid cast made in one piece by the lost-wax process. The hole through the goat’s body was created in the wax, as was the flattening and slight bending of the end of the pin.

Francesca G. Bewer (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 instrument consists of the head, neck, and tubular hindquarters of a bearded wild goat on top of a tapering shaft whose tip is pinched into a flat, spatulate shape. A hole (0.3 cm in diameter) marks the transition from the animal to the shaft. The stylized features of the goat are carefully modeled. The same type of dipstick occurs with bull- and horse-shaped finials, where the animals have similar tubular bodies and stumpy tails (1). Related animals are also known from pendants, such as 1995.1147.

A horse-headed cosmetic stick was excavated in a tomb with a female burial at Ghalekuti in Dailaman, a region in the northern slopes of the Elburz mountain range in the Iranian province Gilan. The utensil was found near the collarbones of a skeleton, suggesting that it might have been worn on a string around the neck (2). The find from Ghalekuti allows us to attribute the Harvard example to the southwest Caspian region in the Parthian period (3).


1. For bull and goat examples, see P. R. S. Moorey, Ancient Persian Bronzes in the Adam Collection (London, 1974) 141-42, nos. 122-23. For horses, see E. L. B. Terrace, The Art of the Ancient Near East in Boston (Boston, 1962) no. 40; S. Fukai, “Design of Horse during the Parthian Period: On a Cosmetic Utensil with Horse Design Excavated from the Gilan Province,” The Memoirs of the Institute of Oriental Culture 50 (1970): i, 1-20, esp. figs. 3-4 and 9-14 [in Japanese with an English summary]; and E. De Waele, Bronzes du Luristan et d’Amlash, Publications d’historie de l’art et d’archeologie de l’Université Catholique de Louvain 34 (Louvain-La-Neuve, 1982) 140-41, nos. 205-207.

2. For Tomb GHAII-T.5, see T. Sono and S. Fukai, Dailaman 3: The Excavations at Hassani Mahale and Ghalekuti, The Tokyo University Iraq-Iran Archaeological Expedition 8 (Tokyo, 1968) 37 and 45-46, nos. 9 and 63, pls. 47.a-b and 80.11.

3. A revised dating places the Ghalekuti tomb in the early Parthian period, although some burial goods from graves of the same group may be even later; compare Moorey 1974 (supra 1) 142; Fukai 1970 (supra 1); and A. Hori, “Dailaman and Shahpir,” Bulletin of the Ancient Orient Museum 3 (1981): 43-61, esp. fig. 5.9. V. Sarkhosh Curtis assigns a belt plaque from GHAII-T.2 to the first to third centuries CE; see id., “Parthian Belts and Belt Plaques,” Iranica Antiqua 36 (2001): 299-327, esp. 306.

Susanne Ebbinghaus

Subjects and Contexts

Ancient Bronzes

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