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Home > Auctions > 23rd May 2017 > Western Asiatic Bactrian Ceremonial 'Lock' Idol with Inlaid Bulls

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LOT 0817

GBP (£) 20,000 - 30,000
EUR (€) 23,680 - 35,520
USD ($) 25,530 - 38,300

11 1/2" (8.7 kg, 29cm).

A carved stone tent weight with bull images and inlay; accompanied by an old scholarly note, typed and signed by W.G. Lambert, late Professor of Assyriology, University of Birmingham, 1970-1993, which states: 'Ancient Alabaster "Weight" 29cm, high 25cm. diameter. This is roughly oval with a hollowed out hole near the top, creating a handle. The edges are rounded and on each side a bull in deep relief with inlay of turquoise and brown stone appears. Much detail is used in the depiction of the bulls. The bull on one side is shown with head facing forwards, while on the other side it faces backwards. In details also the two bulls are quite different. The object is generally in good condition, though some of the inlay is lost on one side. This is an extremely rare object, though certainly from West Central Asia. It dates to c.2000-1700 B.C. Its purpose is not certain, but most probably it was carried in some religious rites.'

Property of a Connecticut, USA, collector; formerly in a Belgian collection; acquired from the Yeganah collection, Frankfurt, Germany; before 1975.

Among the most iconic Intercultural Style objects are the so-called "lock weights". These were probably not weights at all, but were likely badges of high office, carried to indicate authority. Fragments of similar objects have been found throughout Mesopotamia, the islands of the Persian Gulf, on the Iranian steppe, as well as the Indus Valley. The production of them seems to be concentrated in two areas, the Gulf island of Tarut, as well as Tepe Yahya in south central Iran, that has produced the only known mine for the stone. The artistic styles on these chlorite objects represent a fusion of art and religious themes from the diverse regions that they are found in, representing both Mesopotamian and Indus culture. The bull was a popular, and sacred animal in both Mesopotamia and the Indus civilisation. In Mesopotamia it was often associated with storm gods, such as Ball. In the Indus region it appears on seals and is often associated with a horned deity that has been identified as a proto-Shiva type figure.