This ivory head of a male lion is of exceptional quality. The dynamic action of its open mouth, exposing dangerous canine teeth, suggests its readiness to attack. A scholarly suggestion identifies this exquisite artwork as one that may have been the finial of a chair’s armrest. Despite its small dimensions, this lion is part of the same Near Eastern tradition as that of the colossal lion sculptures that underscore the importance of the mighty feline as a symbol of kingship and power. In ancient civilizations, from Anatolia to Syria and Egypt, artists were highly skilled in modelling ivory from the tusks of elephants, hippopotami, wild boars, and sea cows.
On loan from the Royal Ontario Museum; Anonymous Gift; Certified by the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board, 996.86.1