This large cheekpiece, in the shape of an advancing, horned mouflon, was originally one of a pair of horse-bits; an essential part of the horse harness. Such bits comprise two parts; a straight or jointed bar in bronze or iron to fit into the mouth of the horse that is firmly attached to two cheekpieces (psalia) on either side. This cheekpiece reveals the Luristan craftsmans great skill in modeling and casting by lost-wax process. The small stylized lion, attacking from the back of the animal illustrates the remarkable combination of natural and fantastic.
Horse-bits are a large and recognizable group within the canonical bronzes of Luristan. A typical Luristan horse-bit consists of a rigid mouthpiece and a pair of cheekpieces, either plain or cast in the form of horses, caprids (goats), boars, cocks, and griffins. It is unclear whether horse-bits were manufactured for practical use or only for funerary purposes; however, because many examples seem to show wear and almost all have rear spikes that could have been used as goads, it seems probable that they were used in daily life for large horses, which is also indicative a mobile community.
Condition: The object is intact and in excellent condition overall with areas of deep green and brown surface patina with two connection loops on the reverse. A large and interesting example.
Dimensions: Height: 5-3/8” (13.5 cm) Width: 4-1/4" (10.8cm)
Provenance: The Nourollah Elghanayan Collection of Ancient Art, assembled 1950-1970's. Nourollah Elghanayan (1915 - 2009), NYC, Iranian-born businessman started buying land in Manhattan in the 1950s and 1960s focusing on Manhattan property on Second and Third avenues. His sons turned the holdings into a booming real-estate business. Now, the family is worth $1.9 billion and has more than 20 million square feet of residential and commercial holdings to its name, split among two firms.