Carving of a Gladiator Fighting a Wild Animal card

Courtesy of National Museums Liverpool, World Museum

Carving of a Gladiator Fighting a Wild Animal

1969.111.1
Ivory panel of Gladiator fighting a wild animal. The right end is missing losing a large proportion of the animal’s body with the head and paw the only surviving parts of the animal left. There is a hole at the top left corner of the frame and three holes vertically on the left. The frame is plain and simple without decoration. Regular chisel-marks on reverse. The gladiator is wearing a cloak and tunic and in his right hand he uses a club as a weapon against the beast with a shield in his left hand pressed against the animal with force. His face is in side profile with his body twisted slightly to a front profile. There is a very strong diagonal line from the gladiator’s right foot which is stretched to the bottom right corner of the panel right up to his forehead. Another parallel line begins from his left toe to his left hand. These lines prove the gladiator’s power over the beast and the how the height of the frame squashes him into this position. There are groups of small vegetation on the ground to the left, centre and to the right. This particular ivory presents the competition between men and beasts and here it is clearly displayed that the gladiator is taking charge as he is evidently dominant allowing the beast only a small amount of room on the panel. Therefore, there is a slight irony in how the side the animal has been placed is the side that has been lost.