Lion’s head

Greek historians of the fifth and fourth century BC, such as Herodotus and Xenophon, tell us that Persian men and women wore countless pieces of jewellery. The fabulous treasures in the royal palaces and the rich attire of the Persian armies have great imaginative appeal. The lion is a much-loved motif in Persian metalwork. The gold lion’s heads were used to embellish garments and were worn in pairs.

The use of ornaments

Ornaments are worn in order to embellish a person’s appearance. However, they also convey information about the wearer’s wealth, rank, and status. Many are used only on special occasions, such as weddings, parades, or rituals. Sometimes they serve as votive offerings to temples or as taxation ‘in kind’. In other words, ornaments are more than just ‘beautiful things’.

A real masterpiece

This is unquestionably a real masterpiece: the rendering of this aggressive-looking head is finely-proportioned, detailed, and highly sophisticated. It is a magnificent piece of jewellery.


Museum number: B 1960/11.1Dimensions: 5.3 x 4.9 cm
Material: silver, gold
Period: 400 B.C.
Findspot: Iran; Hammadan

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