1st Millennium B.C
A fired terracotta vessel in the form of a hump-backed bull, with elongated nose and curved contours. The animal stands on short legs, with the forelegs smoothly transitioning into the imposing round chest. A vertical rib runs down the chest, representing the dewlap. A similar rib at the rear represents the hindquarters and tail of the animal. Between the chest and the pronounced hump rests the head, elongated to serve as a spout, with circular eyes carved at the base of the long, upturned horns crowning the head. The ears are decorated with hooped bronze earrings. Vessels in the shape of animals were produced in Iran from the late fourth millennium BC, though the majority of these early works were stone rather than ceramic. The most sophisticated manifestation of this tradition appears shortly after 1000 BC in a series of bull- deer- and gazelle-shaped vessels that were excavated in the region southwest of the Caspian Sea at Garmabak and Marlik. As many as five bulls were found in one tomb at Marlik, very similar in style to this bull. The presence of so many similar vessels found in tombs suggests a ritualistic function. In Zoroastrianism (which served as the state religion of the ancient Iranian empires for more than a millennium, from around 600 BCE to 650 CE, but may have had roots dating back to the Second Millennium BC), bull’s urine is a purifying agent, rendering ritually clean the object or person washed in it. The source of this cleansing power is the ‘Uniquely Created Bull’, the origin of all beneficent animal life in Zoroastrian cosmology. In traditional Zoroastrianism unconsecrated bull’s urine (gomez) was used to cleanse a corpse and to purify clothing defiled by death. It may be that similar practices and beliefs existed in northern Iran in the first millennium BC.
Advertisement: ‘La Gazette’ Photographed, 26th June, 1989.
Sold at Neret-Minet-Coutau-Begarie, Paris, 1989 (Advertised in ‘La Gazette’ 26th June, 1989)
Private collection of Mr. Leo Amar, acquired from the above sale (accompanied by French cultural passport 226921).
With IADAA Certificate, this item has been checked against the Interpol database.
Accompanied with TL test by QED laboratoire.