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AN ACHAEMENID GOLD APPLIQUE OF A LAMASSU
AN ACHAEMENID GOLD APPLIQUE OF A LAMASSU
AN ACHAEMENID GOLD APPLIQUE OF A LAMASSU
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These lots have been imported from outside of the … Read more THE VIDAL APPLIQUESPROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF NICOLAS KOTOULAKIS
AN ACHAEMENID GOLD APPLIQUE OF A LAMASSU

IRAN, REIGN OF ARTAXERXES II, 404-359 B.C.

Details
AN ACHAEMENID GOLD APPLIQUE OF A LAMASSU
IRAN, REIGN OF ARTAXERXES II, 404-359 B.C.
9 in. (23.1 cm.) high
Provenance
Reputedly excavated in Hamedan, Iran in 1920.
Maurice Vidal collection, New York, prior to July 1948.
Literature
A. Upham Pope, Illustrated London News, 17 July 1948, pp. 57-59.
Iran: pièces du Musée de Téhéran, du Musée du Louvre et de collections particulières, Paris, Musée Cernuschi, 1948, p. 36, no. 56 (exhibition catalogue).
M. T. Mustafavi, The Historical Monuments of Hamadan and a Chapter concerning Avicenna, Teheran, 1953, pp. 140-141, figs 47, 48.
H. J. Kantor, “Achaemenid Jewelry in the Oriental Institute,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies, vol. 16, no. 1, 1957, p. 18, no. 94.
Exhibited
Iran: pièces du Musée de Téhéran, du Musée du Louvre et de collections particulières, Musée Cernuschi, Paris, 23-31 July 1948.
Special notice

These lots have been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.
Post lot text
The USA prohibits the purchase by US persons of Iranian-origin “works of conventional craftsmanship” such as carpets, textiles, decorative objects, and scientific instruments. The US sanctions apply to US persons regardless of the location of the transaction or the shipping intentions of the US person. For this reason, Christie’s will not accept bids by US persons on this lot. Non-US persons wishing to import this lot into the USA are advised that they will need to apply for an OFAC licence and that this can take many months to be granted.

Brought to you by

Claudio Corsi
Claudio Corsi Specialist

Lot Essay


This exquisite applique of a lamassu, together with the following lot, was exhibited at the Musée Cernuschi, Paris, in 1948, as part of a magnificent find of Achaemenid gold objects, comprising twenty-three pieces reputedly found together in Hamedan, Iran, in 1920.

Greek travellers and historians, such as Diodorus Siculus and Quintus Curtius, told staggering stories of the lavish use of gold in Achaemenid Persia, both for personal adornments and for court furniture. According to Diodorus Siculus, Alexander the Great plundered the palace buildings of Persepolis for a treasure of precious metals estimated to be almost 2500 tons (Bibliotheca Historica 17.71.1-6). The representations of jewellery, such as necklaces, armlets and vessels found on the Persepolis reliefs confirm the likelihood of these accounts.

The appliques were reputedly found along with two gold inscription plaques, which establish the approximate dating to the reign of Artaxerxes II, the Achaemenid King of Persia who reigned 404–359 B.C. Although the exact use of the appliques cannot be determined, these motifs may have been applied to furniture, such as doors or shields. The applique would have been affixed by means of narrow tongues along the edges, which were used to slot the piece in to the final product. This applique is closely related to the imposing winged figures which guard the 'Gate of All Nations' at the top of the main stairway to the Persepolis platform, see no. 606 in P. Amiet, Art of the Ancient Near East, New York, 1980. These figures are named lamassu and refer to a protective deity with an apotropaic function, which would support their probable use as decoration on doors. The pose of the lamassu is characteristic of Achaemenid art and is generally interpreted as a gesture of adoration.

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