Master of Animals Finial
799 BCE - 700 BCE
7 5/16 x 2 13/16 x 7/8 in. (18.6 x 7.1 x 2.3 cm)
Medium and Support:
Gift of Henry Hirschland
Location: Currently on view
Theories abound as to the meaning, symbolism, and function of these ancient bronze finials that represent the “Master of Animals,” one of the most important motifs in ancient Middle Eastern art. The central figure is a human male, his outstretched arms grasping the neck of long-snouted two-headed beasts with the beaks of eagles and round haunches with clawed feet. The figure may represent Gilgamesh, the superhuman hero of Mesopotamian mythology, or Sraosha, the early Iranian god of justice. What seems clear, though, is that this finial symbolizes humankind’s dominion over the predatory forces of nature.
-- from "Art at the Crossroads" brochure