Bronze Plaque, M-132
Bryn Mawr College Collections
Richard C. Bull Collection

Map of Iran






Several pieces are assigned to the region of Luristan. This region and its culture is one of the most misunderstood regions of Iran. The ancient sites of this area were heavily looted for centuries and sold in the because these objects have no recorded archaeological context. While there have been excavations in Luristan, not all the objects excavated compare with those found in collections around the world because of looting and false attributions by art dealers.

Despite this uncertain history of the region, objects in the Bull Collection have been assigned to this region of the world based on comparisons with objects in other collections and objects from excavations in Luristan. One of the most interesting pieces from this region, with good parallels in both purchased collections and excavated collections is the bronze plaque depicting a “Master of the Animals” motif, M-132. This motif is common to Iran and the Near East in antiquity. It comes from prehistoric Mesopotamia and spread throughout the Near East. Numerous parallels of this motif can be found in collections of Luristan bronzes. The closest excavated parallel for this piece comes from the Luristan site of Surkh Dum-i-Luri and dates to Iron Age I-II which corresponds to roughly 1200-750 BCE. It is a rectangular plaque with a stem coming out from the top of it, probably for a pin. Inside the rectangular borders is a double-headed master with twice outlined almond-shaped eyes. He looks to the side so that his prominent nose is seen in profile and is not as flat looking as that on the Bull antiquities market. As a result, these objects have no archaeological context to provide relationships.

Furthermore, local dealers profited greatly by attributing objects to Luristan and so, many objects have been assigned to Luristan which may or may not have come from this region Collection plaque. Waves, like those on the figure of the Bull Collection plaque, extend one from each of the two heads of the master. He holds the front legs of the two animals flanking him. These animals have similar eyes and bodies to those of the Bull Collection plaque. Their tails also rest on the bottom of the frame and seem to become part of it. The figure of the master is dressed in a belted kilt similar to the Bull Collection plaque figure. The one from Surkh Dum-i-Luri, however, is incised with lines to indicate pleats.

Sor 1465 Surkh Dum-i Luri Schmidt 1989, p. 272, pl. 185.