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

Statuette of a lion, 11th-12th century

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This rare and enigmatic gold sculpture of a lion—a symbol of power and authority—is elaborately decorated with looping filigree and fine granulation, in keeping with the Islamic goldsmithing traditions of the later Muslim kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula (present-day Spain and Portugal). Islam arrived in Europe in 711 CE, bringing new traditions in the decorative arts, such as the animal-shaped aquamanile: a vessel used for hand washing, which the Qur’an requires before prayer. While the handle, spout, and open mouth of this lion statuette complies with the forms of an aquamanile, its small scale may suggest more symbolic than functional use. The work closest in size, style, and workmanship to this lion is a winged ram found in northwestern Spain, leading us to believe that this work, too, is from Muslim Spain.

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

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

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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