Horse blinker with a seated sphinx wearing a uraeus and sun-disk headdress

Period: Neo-Assyrian

Date: ca. 8th century B.C.

Geography: Mesopotamia, Nimrud (ancient Kalhu)

Culture: Assyrian

Medium: Ivory

Dimensions: 4.13 x 7.32 in. (10.49 x 18.59 cm)

Classification: Ivory/Bone-Equestrian-Inscribed

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1954

Accession Number: 54.117.1


The craftsmen who carved ivories in the Phoenician style were strongly influenced by Egyptian art. Many of these ivories illustrate Egyptian themes and motifs, but in entirely original compositions. Phoenician-style ivories were used primarily as furniture decoration. Some are solid plaques; others are carved on one or both sides in a delicate openwork technique. Many were originally covered with gold leaf and inlaid with semiprecious stones or colored glass.

Elaborate horse trappings, including frontlets and blinkers such as this one, were sometimes crafted from ivory and are represented on Assyrian reliefs. This spade-shaped horse blinker is decorated in low relief with a seated sphinx wearing the Egyptian cobra, or uraeus, and sun disk on its head. Another winged uraeus and sun disk faces the sphinx to its left. Behind the sphinx is a cartouche attached to a lotus plant. The hieroglyphic inscription inside the cartouche is a Phoenician name, "Djunen."