Bronze mask, Iran
Northern Iran, Early 1st Millenium BC or before
Height : 13,5 cm
Provenance : David Aaron, London Acher Eskenasy, Paris
Publication : "Masken"
(M. Doustar, 2015), n°3
Very few bronze or copper masks related to the ancient cultures of the Near East have been found. This exceptional example probably originates from the northeastern part of Iran, or Bactrian, even though the mask features closely resemble some faces of bronze idols from Luristan and Elam, in southwestern Iran. This provenance is also reinforced by the metallurgic analysis performed by Dr. Peter Northover from the University of Oxford, who observed that a leaded copper arsenic or copper-arsenic-antimony alloy was used for the manufucture of the mask. This alloy has notably a long history of use in the northeastern region of Iran and adjacent parts of Central Asia.
The facial features are delicately balanced, with almond-shaped eyes wide open, brows and lips in high relief, and details such as nostrils and philtrum subtly suggested. The hemispherical ears were cast separetely and attached with two rivets. The surface of the mask presents an eutectic patina highly penetrated by corrosion, with heavy deposits still visible on the back of the mask, consistent with the operation of long term natural processes in a burial environment. Etching and some residual cold work indicate that the mask was cast close to shape but experienced one or more cycles of working and annealing during hand nishing a er casting.
This fascinating object, both universal and timeless, was certainly made for a noble of high rank, and probably intended to follow him in the tomb, as a funerary mask.
Price on request