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Chalcolithic Tepe Sialk Terracotta Bowl with Ibex, Horned Animal

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Ancient World: Near Eastern: Ceramics: Pre AD 1000: Item # 1367791

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Chalcolithic, Tepe Sialk Iran, Terracotta Bowl with Ibex, Horned Animals. ca. 5000 - 4000 Century BCE. Professionally repaired as seen in images. 2 3/4" x 7 5/8" diameter. Ex: Archaeological Center Ltd. Tel Aviv. Cf: Metropolitan Museum of Art, Accession #59.1 Chalcolithic Bowl with Horned Animals. Chalcolithic (transition from stone to metal) painted wares developed on the Iranian plateau and in the western mountains. Like much of the pottery from Iran in the Chalcolithic Period (ca. 5500-4000 B.C.), this piece is very skillfully made, with thin walls of very uniform thickness. Parallels with similar pottery excavated at the site of Tepe Sialk near Kashan allow it to be dated to 5000-3000 B.C. The bowl has been burnished to a glossy shine, a process in which a vessel that has dried to leather-like hardness is rubbed with a stone or bone tool in order to make the surface less permeable to liquids. This process may have been primarily functional, but the care and effort placed on the shaping and decoration of the bowl suggests that the aesthetic effects of the gleaming surface were also important. While the outside surface of the bowl is a uniform red color, the inside has been decorated with painted concentric circles connected by eight hatched zig-zag patterns arranged like the spokes of a wheel. Above the uppermost circle, four stylized ibexes with large horns are painted, their bodies indicated by outlines filled in by a crosshatched pattern, their heads facing in a clockwise direction and tilted slightly forward, as if in motion. The combination of the animals and the swirling pattern below them gives the impression of quick, spiraling movement, with the vertical zig-zag lines seeming to represent the flashing legs of the ibex in flight from a pursuer. As the bowl was decorated on the inside, it was probably meant to be seen primarily from above, perhaps as the person drinking from the bowl gradually emptied its contents, slowly revealing the design.