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Decorative Ornament
Scythian, ca. 4th century B.C., Bronze, 7.2 cm x 7.1 cm

The Scythians were a nomadic tribe that lived in Eurasia from 9th to 4th century B.C.. In the peak of their power the territory extended from Carpathian Mountains in the West to Ordos at the Yellow River and Southern Siberia in the East. A conflict between nomadic tribes in Central Asia stimulated a great migration of all nomadic people. In result from 2nd century B.C. to 4th century A.D. the Scythians were pushed out from Central Asia to move to the north-western and central part of South Asia - to Sogdiana, Bactria, Gandhara and Kashmir. In the 1st century B.C. the Scythians established the Indo-Scythian kingdom in Gandhara and the Indus Valley, and expanded their territory conquering north-western India. However, in the beginning of the 1st century A.D. they were defeated by another nomadic power, the Yuezhi called also Saka - the founders of the Kushan Empire, and have fallen under their control.
The Scythians who were organized in clans and a base for their living was hunting and herding, gave symbolic meaning or even worshipped animals from their surroundings. Representing animals in art of the Scythians resulted in so called “Animal Style” spread all around vast area of the Eurasian steppes and in production of numerous gold and bronze adornments which main motives were animals. This ornament was a garment clasp or a harness decoration. A recumbent stag is depicted in the center with a body curled up. Two boars and two birds of prey are then arranged symmetrically around it. Whether these animals were symbols of clans or they were admired and hold in esteem for their traits - a stag for the swiftness, a boar for the power of the attack by charging, a bird of prey for the rapid predation - is left to the imagination of the audience.

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