Choose Category:

Home > Auctions > 25th February 2016 > Western Asiatic Elamite Offering Dish

Print page | Email lot to a friend

Back to previous page

Use mousewheel to zoom in and out, click to enlarge
Gallery loading...

LOT 1494

GBP (£) 30,000 - 40,000
EUR (€) 35,520 - 47,360
USD ($) 38,300 - 51,070

7 1/2" (246 grams, 19cm).

A tall bitumen offering cup formed as a hemispherical bowl with lily petals and border of impressed saltires to the outer face; supported on an openwork column formed as three radiating squatting figures, each with the head in the mouth of a pouncing feline gripping the shoulders with its forepaws, and resting on the head and foreparts of a gazelle, legs folded beneath; domed base and central balustered column.

From a London, UK, collection; acquired 1970s.

Accompanied by an Art Loss Register certificate.

See Connan, J & Deschesne, O. Le Bitume à Suse: Collection du Musée du Louvre, Paris, 1996 no.22; discussion in Harper et al. The Royal City of Susa: Ancient Near Eastern Treasures in the Louvre, New York, 1992, p.99-105.

Herodotus in his Histories records that the river Euphrates had lumps of bitumen in it that came from a natural seep close to the city of Babylon. Also, Plutarch mentions Alexander the Great visiting pools of bubbling bitumen near the city of Mennis as he made his way through the defeated Persian empire. Bitumen was used in a number of ways, such as in buildings to bind the lower courses of bricks, for making figurines and offering cups, doors were coated with it, boats and ships were caulked with it, as well as being used in medicine and in magical rituals. Sculpture in bitumen was a tradition that came from the city state of Susa during the Uruk period, (4000-3100 BC), and it would seem that local craftsmen were imitating exotic luxury goods from southeastern Iran, such as the chlorite vessels, that were traded extensively to Bactria and the city states of Mesopotamia.