Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Plaque: winged creatures approaching stylized trees

Iron Age III
ca. 8th–7th century B.C.
Iran, said to be from Ziwiye
H. 21.2 cm
Credit Line:
Purchase, Ann and George Blumenthal Fund, 1954; Rogers Fund, 1962
Accession Number:
54.3.5 and 62.78.1a, b
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 400
In 1947 a treasure was reputedly found at a mound near the village of Ziwiye in northwestern Iran. Objects attributed to Ziwiye are stylistically similar to Assyrian art of the eighth and seventh centuries B.C. as well as to the art of contemporary Syria, Urartu, and Scythia. Many objects of gold, silver, bronze, ivory, and ceramic have since appeared on the antiquities market with the provenance of Ziwiye, although there is no way to verify this identification.

This plaque, perforated around the edge, was perhaps once attached to a garment of a wealthy lord or to the shroud of a prince. Its design is similar to contemporary art of Assyria, Urartu, and Scythian-style objects. The plaque was originally composed of seven registers decorated in repoussé and chasing; two were separated and are now in the collection of the Archaeological Museum, Tehran. The registers display the familiar composite creatures of the ancient Near East striding in groups of three toward a stylized sacred tree, the central motif. The human-headed, winged lion, seen in the first and third register, is a creature that also appears as a gate guardian on the doorjambs in the palace of Ashurnasirpal II at Nimrud. A sphinx struts along the second band, followed by winged lions and an ibex. The bodies of the fantastic creatures are composed of unusual combinations of animal and bird parts: in the uppermost register, the lions sport ostrich tails, while in the second, their tails are those of scorpions. The trees of life bear pomegranates, pine cones, and lotus flowers. Each scene is framed and separated by a delicate guilloche pattern.

54.3.5 Ex-collection of Khalil Rabenou, New York; acquired by the Museum in 1954, purchased from The Kevorkian Foundation, New York. 62.78.1a, b Acquired by the Museum in 1962, purchased from K. Rabenou Ltd., New York.

“Gold,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, April 14–September 9, 1973.

“The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Selections from the Collection of the Ancient Near East Department,” MOA Museum of Art, Atami, Japan, The Aiche Prefectural Art Gallery, Nagoya, Japan, The Seibu Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan, 1983.

"Additions to the Collections." Eighty-Fourth Annual Report of the Trustees for the Year 1953, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 13 (1) (Summer 1954), p. 17.

Illustrated London News, 16 April 1955, p. 699.

Wilkinson, Charles K. 1955. "Assyrian and Persian Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 13 (7), p. 217

Carter, Dagny. 1957. The Symbol of the Beast: The Animal Style Art of Eurasia. New York: Ronald Press, pl. 29.

Kantor, Helene J. 1960. "A fragment of gold appliqué from Ziwiye and Some Remarks on Artistic Traditions of Armenia and Iran during the Early First Millenium." Journal of Near Eastern Studies 19 (1), pp. 3-4, fig. 2.

van Ufford, Lili Byvanck-Quarles. 1962. "Le Trésor de Ziwiyé." Bulletin Antieke Beschaving 37, pp. 25, 30-32, figs. 5-6.

Wilkinson, Charles K. 1963. "Treasure from the Mannean Land." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 21 (8), pp. 277-280, fig. 2.

Phillips, E.D. 1963. "The Peoples of the Highland." In Vanished Civilizations, edited by Edward Bacon. New York: McGraw-Hill, p. 223, fig. 1.

Ghirshman, Roman. 1964. The Arts of Ancient Iran. New York: Golden Press, p. 312, fig. 377.

Culican, William. 1965. The Medes and Persians. Ancient Peoples and Places, Vol. 42. New York: Praeger,pp. 38-39, fig. 12.

Crawford, Vaughn E. "Some notes from an Excavation," Apollo, LXXXII, no. 43 (NS), Sept. 1965, p. 218, fig. 13.

Crawford, Vaughn E. et al. 1966. Guide to the Ancient Near East Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 27, fig. 41

Hibbard, Howard. 1980. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: Harper and Row, fig. 108, pp. 50, 56.

Harper, Prudence O. et al. 1983. In The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Selections from the Collection of the Ancient Near East Department, exh. cat. Tokyo: Chunichi Shimbun, no. 80.

Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1983. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide, edited by Kathleen Howard. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 48, fig. 6.

Harper, Prudence O. et al. 1984. "Ancient Near Eastern Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 41 (4), Spring 1984, pp. 46-47, fig. 64.
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