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Two Ordos Bronze Animal Wolf (?) Plaques with Prey

Two Ordos Bronze Animal Wolf (?) Plaques with Prey


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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Ancient World: Near Eastern: Metalwork: Pre AD 1000: Item # 1247108
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These two superb bronze plaques are attributed to the Ordos culture, and date circa 5th-3rd century B.C. These two pieces are approximately 4.25 inches long by 2.3 inches high, and have an attractive dark brown/black patina with gold gilt and dark red highlights. There is also some minute root marking seen mostly on the back side of each piece, and there is some dark green mineralization seen in sections of each piece as well. Both pieces have very little wear, were likely votive, and were both cast from the lost-wax process, while the wax model was formed in a two-piece mold. These pieces were made as a matching pair, and were possibly attached to a wooden sarcophagus, a burial garment, or the most likely, a leather belt. This type of piece is usually found in pairs, which may also tie in with the "master of the animals" cult that was associated with many cultures in the ancient Near East circa 1000-100 B.C. These plaques are attributed to the Ordos culture, which was located in modern day Eastern Mongolia and Southern Siberia. Most Ordos bronzes of this type can also be associated with the Xiongnu, who were a Mongolian steppes nomadic tribe that had to contend with the Chinese during the Han period. The term "Ordos bronzes" has been applied rather indiscriminately to all "animal style" objects found in the vast northern border areas with China, irrespective of place of discovery or dating. What is known is that the two plaques offered here stylistically match other examples found in Eastern Mongolia and Southern Siberia. For the type see "Nomadic Art of the Eastern Eurasian Steppes: The Eugene V. Thaw and Other New York Collections", Yale University Press, 2002. The pieces offered here show a standing animal which resembles a wolf, which is seen devouring it's prey, which appears to be a horned ibex. The horned ibex is seen with it's head in the mouth of the wolf, and it's curved horn is seen on the ground, as head of the ibex is seen turned around with a twisted elongated neck. In addition, the ibex may be a young baby animal, which may also explain the size difference between both the ibex and the wolf, but in reality, the ibex portrayed on these plaques may be an adult animal, and the carnivorous wolf may have been designed in an oversized manner to portray a more powerful creature. The wolf may also represent a "spirit animal" and may not be a wolf, but rather a creature that somewhat resembles a wolf or a feline. The creature portrayed here has a curled tail like a feline, and an elongated snout like a wolf, and the creature seen here may be a combination of both animals. The ibex head can also be best seen with the entire piece being viewed upside down, which is a convention of art that is common to the Ordos culture. (See attached close up photo.) This piece also has an attachment hook seen in the top center of the wolf's back, a small hole seen in the tip of the tail, and another hole designed within the ibex horn and front leg. These were the three points as to how this piece could have been attached to a leather belt with leather ties. These plaques have a very powerful image, and may have served as a "power type" piece for the wearer. Additional pieces of this type can be seen in "Treasures of the Eurasian Steppes" by Ariadne Galleries, New York, 1998. The pieces offered here are in superb to mint condition, have a high degree of eye appeal, and are better examples of this type that are normally seen. These pieces also are attached within an attractive black wooden framed shadow box, and can easily be removed. Ex: Private United Kingdom collection, circa 1980's. Note: additional documentation is available to the purchaser. I certify that this piece is authentic as to date, culture, and condition: