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Pottery vessel in a shape of a bull
Iran, 1000 B.C., Burnished Pottery, L: 37.5 cm, H: 34 cm

This vessel in shape of a powerful bull is a rhyton used during ritual ceremonies or banquets. Employing design of animals of superb characteristics like a strong bull or a beast of prey, a swift horse or deer, an agile goat meant receiving such power when drinking, but no doubt that the form of this work of art beautiful in the extreme was also appreciated.
Numerous zoomorphic pottery vessels have been unearthed in the facing the Caspian Sea province of Gilan, Iran, and this rhyton was also found in the same area. The hump and horns, the prominent back and genitals are emphasized. The face of the bull is stylized to be a spout of the vessel. The dewlap and the tail are used as front and back framing accents. Artistic reshaping based on enlarged head, hump and body in compare to relatively short legs results in creating an impression of enormous volume and heaviness, thus power. The small perforations in the ears suggest that in the past they were decorated with bronze earrings. The bull has been a symbol of strength and fertility in all the civilizations. It has been also an animal familiar to people since ancient times often depicted in art.
The rhyton means a drinking horn. Bovid horns have been used as drinking vessel since ancient times. Most of rhyta were filled from the wider upper mouth, but for drinking a small hole on the pointed end was used. However, there were also many vessel formed like this one, in which the same spout was used either for filling with liquid or for drinking.
Shinny surface of this vessel was obtained by polishing with a hard but smooth piece of wood, bone or stone before firing.

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