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Vessel terminating in the forepart of a stag

Period:
Hittite Empire
Date:
ca. 14th–13th century B.C.
Geography:
Central Anatolia
Culture:
Hittite
Medium:
Silver, gold inlay
Dimensions:
H. 18 cm
Classification:
Metalwork-Vessels
Credit Line:
Gift of Norbert Schimmel Trust, 1989
Accession Number:
1989.281.10
  • Description

    By 1700 B.C., people speaking Hittite—an Indo-European language—had founded a capital at Bogazköy (ancient Hattusha) and, under a series of powerful kings, established a state in central Anatolia. The Hittite army attacked and partly destroyed Babylon in 1595 B.C., and in 1285 B.C. fought a battle against the Egyptian king Ramesses II at Qadesh in Syria.



    This silver rhyton—a drinking vessel in the form of an animal with a pouring hole in its chest—in the form of a stag was hammered from one piece that was joined to the head by a checkerboard-patterned ring. Both the horns and the handle were attached separately. A frieze depicting a religious ceremony decorates the rim of the cup, suggesting the uses for which the cup was intended. A prominent figure, thought to be a goddess, sits on a cross-legged stool, holding a bird of prey in her left hand and a small cup in her right. She wears a conical crown and has large ears, typical of Hittite art. A mushroom-shaped incense burner separates her from a male god who stands on the back of a stag. He, too, holds a falcon in his left hand, while with his right he grasps a small curved staff. Three men are shown in profile, moving to the left and facing the deities. Each holds an offering to the divinities. Behind the men is a tree or plant against which rests the collapsed figure of a stag. Hanging from the tree is a quiver with arrows and an object that appears to be a bag. Two vertical spears complete the frieze and separate the stag from the goddess.



    Cult scenes or religious processions are commonly represented in the art of the Hittite Empire, and texts make frequent reference to trees and plants associated with rituals or festivals. The texts also tell us that spears were venerated objects, so it is possible that the stag, killed in hunt, as is suggested by the quiver and bag, was being dedicated to the stag god. Hittite texts also mention that animal-shaped vessels made of gold, silver, stone, and wood, in the appropriate animal form, were given to the gods for their own use. Though the precise meaning of the frieze on this vessel remains a matter of conjecture, it is possible that it was intended to be the personal property of the stag god.

  • Provenance

    [Informally said to be on the art market in Istanbul]; [by 1965, Egon Beckenbauer, Munich]; by 1966, collection of Norbert Schimmel, New York; from 1970, on loan to the Museum by Norbert Schimmel (L.1970.73.3, L.1973.48, L.1983.119.1); acquired by the Museum in 1989, gift of Norbert Schimmel Trust.

  • Exhibition History

    “Ancient Art. The Norbert Schimmel Collection,” Cleveland Museum of Art, Dallas Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1974-1977.

    “Von Troja bis Amarna: The Norbert Schimmel Collection New York,” Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, 1978-1979.

    “Wine: Celebration and Ceremony,” Cooper-Hewitt Museum, New York, June 4, 1985–October 13, 1985.

    “Ancient Art: Gifts from the Norbert Schimmel Collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, June 4, 1991–September 15, 1991.

    “Beyond Babylon: Art, Trade and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium B.C.,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, November 17, 2008–March 15, 2009.

  • References

    Muscarella, Oscar W., ed. 1974. Ancient Art: The Norbert Schimmel Collection. Mainz: Philipp Von Zabern, no. 123.

    Muscarella, Oscar W. 1975. "The Norbert Schimmel Collection." Art News, January 1975, p. 74.

    Bittel, Kurt. 1976. Les Hittites. Paris: Gallimard, p. 160, fig. 169.

    "Learning." The New Yorker, March 29, 1976.

    Güterbock, Hans G. 1977. ”The Hittite Seals in the Walters Art Gallery.” Journal of Walters Art Gallery 36, p. 9.

    Settgast, Jürgen, ed. 1978. Von Troja bis Amarna: The Norbert Schimmel Collection New York. Mainz: Philipp Von Zabern, no. 133.

    Mellaart, James. 1978. The Archaeology of Ancient Turkey. London: The Bodley Head Ltd., p. 64.

    Alp, Sedat. 1983. Beiträge zur Erforschung des hethitischen Tempels: Kultanlagen im Lichte der Keilschrifttexte. Neue Deutungen. Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Basimevi, pp. 93-100, pls. 6a-h.

    Boehmer, Rainer Michael. 1983. Die Reliefkeramik von Bogazköy. Berlin: Gebr. Mann Verlag, p. 59, fig. 49, p. 59.

    Dinçol, A.M. 1983. “Adana, Hatay ve Istanbul Müzelerinde Bulunan Hitit Hieroglif Mühürleri.“ Anadolu Arastirmalari 9, pp. 185ff and pp.221ff, note 3.

    Güterbock, Hans G. 1983. "Hethitische Götterbilder und Kultobjekte." In Beiträge zur Altertumskunde und Kleinasiens: Festschrift für Kurt Bittel, edited by R.M. Boehmer and H. Hauptmann, vol. 1. Mainz am Rhein: Philipp von Zabern, p. 213, 217.

    Harper, Prudence O. et al. 1984. "Ancient Near Eastern Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 41 (4), Spring 1984, p. 15.

    Dalley, Stephanie. 1984. Mari and Karana: Two Old Babylonian Cities. London and New York: Longman, pp. 60-61, fig. 27.

    Porada, Edith. 1986. “A Subject for Continuing Conversation.” In Ancient Anatolia: Aspects of Change and Cultural Development. Essays in Honor of Machteld J. Mellink, edited by Jeanny V. Canby et al. Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press, p. 86.

    Thierry, Nicole. 1987. "Le Culte du Cerf en Anatolie et la vision de Saint-Eustache." Dossiers Histoire et Archéologie 121, November 1987.

    Canby, Jeanny V. 1989. "Hittite Art." Biblical Archaeologist. June-Sept 1989, pp. 115-117.

    Canby, Jeanny V. 1989. "A New Hittite Child.” In Anatolia and the Ancient Near East: Studies in Honor of Tahsin Özgüc, edited by K. Emre et al. Ankara, pp. 53ff, pl. 8, fig. 2.

    Mayer-Opificius, R. 1989. “Hethitische Kunstdenkmaler des 13. Jahrhunderts V.Chr.” In Anatolia and the ancient Near East: Studies in Honor of Tahsin Özgüç, edited by K. Emre et al. Ankara, p. 359, pl. 66.

    Güterbock, Hans G. 1989. "A Note on the Frieze of the Stag Rhyton in the Schimmel Collection." Anadolu 22 (1981-83, published 1989), pp. 1-5.

    Muscarella, Oscar W. 1992. "Vessel in the Form of a Stag." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 49 (4), Ancient Art: Gifts from the Norbert Schimmel Collection (Spring 1992), pp. 6-7.

    Emre, Kutlu and Aykut Çinaroglu. 1993. “A Group of Metal Hittite Vessels from Kinik-Kastamonu.” In Aspects of Art and Iconography: Anatolia and its Neighbors. Studies in Honor of Nimet Özgüç, edited by Machteld J. Mellink, Edith Porada, and Tahsin Özgüç. Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Basimevi, p. 702.

    Collon, Dominique. 1995. Ancient Near Eastern Art. Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 105-106.

    Symington, Dorit. 1995."Hittite and Neo-Hittite Furniture." In The Furniture of Western Asia: Ancient and Traditional, edited by Georgina Herrmann. Mainz: Philipp Von Zabern, p. 120.

    Akurgal, Ekrem. 2001. The Hattian and Hittite Civilizations. Publications of the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture/2616. Directorate of Publications Arts Series 329, pp. 158-163.

    Van De Mieroop, Marc. 2007. A History of the Ancient Near East ca. 3000-323 BC. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, p. 164, fig. 8.2.

    Lapérouse, Jean-François de. 2008. "Stag Vessel." In Beyond Babylon: Art, Trade, and Diplomacy in the Second Millenium B.C., edited by Joan Aruz, Kim Benzel and Jean M. Evans. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 107, pp. 181-182.

    Bilgi, Önder. 2012. Anadolu'da Insan Görüntüleri: Klasik Çağ Öncesi. Istanbul: Aygaz, no. R159a-b, pp. 452-453.

    Taracha, Piotr. 2012. "The Sculptures of Alacahoyuk: A Key to Religious Symbolism in Hittite Representational Art", Near Eastern Archaeology 75 (2), p.113, fig.6.

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