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Deer Head Rhyton

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

Ancient Iranian Ceramics

These ceramics demonstrate ancient Iranian artists’ interest in creating containers and other ritual instruments in the shape of mammals or birds. This tradition was of incredible duration, stretching back to about 3000 B.C.E. of the Neolithic period and lasting as late as the sixth century C.E. These shapes relate Iranian art to the customs of neighboring regions of Mesopotamia, Greece, and Central Asia where animal art also played an integral role.
  • Place Made: Iran
  • DATES ca. 1000-550 B.C.E.
    DIMENSIONS length: 13 3/16 in. (33.5 cm) diameter of mouth: 4 3/4 in. (12 cm)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 2015.65.26
    CREDIT LINE Gift of the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, NYC, in memory of James F. Romano
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION A conical horn tapers downward from a flat cuff at the top to a curving terminal that forms a simplified deer head. The head has a pronounced convex profile with a protruding upper lip and a concave underside. The edges of the jaws are sharply modeled and between them a small round hole allows the liquid to run out. Short branching antlers and naturalistically modeled ears extend at right angles to the axis of the vessel. In contrast to these three-dimensional forms, the almond-shaped eyes have essentially flat rims with shallowly incised outlines and canuli. The shape and balance of the entire vessel allows it to support itself only if stood upside down on its rim.
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