This balustrade and two others, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Louvre in Paris, are from a building probably in the city of Hamadan, Iran.
This architectural relief shows a lion attacking a bull surrounded by other predators pursuing their prey, with scrolling vegetal motifs filling the spaces between. Scenes of powerful predators in the act of hunting and capturing other animals echo the royal imagery of pre-Islamic Iran.
This piece was part of a balustrade in a private home; the owner and construction date are known from another fragment from the same building. The building was embellished when the Mongols controlled Iran, and the relief shows a continuity in style from carvings made during the preceding Turkic Seljuk period (1037–1194). Under Turkic and Mongol rule in Iran, Islamic injunctions against making figural imagery were loosened.
Balustrade Fragment with Animals from the residence of Hajji Hasan ibn Ibrahim ibn Muhammad
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