Master-of-Animals Standard



The exact purpose of this object remains a little bit of a mystery. It is unique to the Luristan region, a mountainous area in western Iran just east of Mesopotamia. Thousands of decorative bronze artefacts were buried in cemeteries and religious sanctuaries. However, none have been found in an undisturbed archaeological context which makes interpretation of what they were used for uncertain. They may have been used as protective devices within religious rituals. At the base of the object is a hollow socket designed to be fixed at the top of a pole or other vertical support (which is why they are often called finials or standards). The object is shaped in the form of a figure wrestling a pair of stylised felines with smaller felines on their backs (an image often called ‘master-of-animals’ iconography).