• Art of the Islamic and Indian  auction at Christies

    Sale 7751

    Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds

    6 October 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 26

    A CAST GOLD FINIAL WITH THREE LIONS

    IRAN OR CENTRAL-ASIA, 11TH/12TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A CAST GOLD FINIAL WITH THREE LIONS
    IRAN OR CENTRAL-ASIA, 11TH/12TH CENTURY
    Of baluster form rising from a ribbed open base to a tapering fluted neck, with three winged lion protomes, each lion seated with the head to the left, one leg raised, the tail swaying backward, the head in high relief with stylized mane, with foliage over ring-punched ground, the finial hollow as to be fixed on a rod, the top and interior with remains of cast metal alloy, encrustation, minor distortions
    2 5/8in. (6.5cm.) high


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    A gold repoussé belt ornament in the Freer Gallery of Art displaying a lion walking to the left with its head in high relief, with chased details on ring-punched ground, is very similar in technique and iconography to the present finial. In the Catalogue of Islamic Metalwork in the Freer Gallery of Art, the ornament is compared to a rare gold sword pommel with three seated winged-lions with heads in high-relief now in the Tehran Archeological Museum which is almost identical to our example and gives therefore an indication as to its possible use (Esin Atil et. al., op. cit., Washington, 1985, p. 72, fig. 28). A rosewater sprinkler in the David collection datable to the second half of 12th century, whose shoulder is decorated with a frieze of similar lions, suggests that this motif was much appreciated in Medieval Easter Iran and Afghanistan (Kjeld von Folsach, Art from the World of Islam, Copenhagen, 2001, p. 311, cat. 494).

    The Tehran pommel was found in Gilan, on the Southern shore of the Caspian Sea, and is datable to the 11th century. It was considered the only known piece closely related to the Freer Gallery ornament to which the present example now brings a second comparable. However, with its remarkably preserved condition and its monumentality albeit the small size, this gold ornament stands out from the previous examples and is in all points exceptional.

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium


    Provenance

    Private Swiss collection, inherited by the present owner in 1999