Lion; standing on its four paws, the tail arched over the back; surface decorated with very fine granulation and tiny ringlets of twisted wire; gold

Statue of a lion, 11th-12th century

Unknown artist, expand_more
G243expand_more

Gold sculptures from the Islamic world are exceptionally scarce. This enigmatic gold sculpture of a lion—a symbol of power and authority—is elaborately decorated with ornate filigree and fine granulation. After the collapse of the Umayyad Caliphate of Cordoba in the eleventh century, Muslim aristocrats throughout the Iberian Peninsula became the primary patrons of luxury gold and silver objects. The work closest in size, style, and workmanship to this lion is a winged ram found in northwestern Spain now in the Lugo (Orense) Museum. The Lugo ram is dateable to the eleventh century, and it is most likely that the Minneapolis lion also dates to the eleventh or early twelfth century. Both objects are testaments to the sophisticated taste and refined techniques of Islamic goldwork in Spain.

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Details
Title
Statue of a lion
Role
Artist
Accession Number
72.12
Curator Approved

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Lion; standing on its four paws, the tail arched over the back; surface decorated with very fine granulation and tiny ringlets of twisted wire; gold