Ancient Near East, Northwestern Iran, Luristan, ca. 1000 to 600 BCE. A ornamental cast- bronze harness ring made to fit the bridle of a horse. The ring is comprised of a flat disc with incised lines decorating one side, and two ibex standing in profile on the top half. This ring was probably the cheek piece that held the bit in place with an identical ring on the other side. Luristan craftsmen produced high quality bronze objects for a class of nomadic horse lords whose love of their animals shines through clearly in the decorative items they commissioned. Size: 2.25″ W x 3.625″ H (5.7 cm x 9.2 cm)
The affluent group in Luristan society that patronized the metalworking industry and purchased decorative items like these were nomadic horsemen. They would travel into towns and purchase bronze and iron objects from craftsmen there. Although these horsemen were pre-literate, we know from the records of the Elamites and other southern neighbors that they were mercenaries in the constant warfare between the Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Elamites. Their horses were their livelihood, and they seem to have ornamented them as beautifully as they ornamented themselves.