Object: Bracelet

C/1998/1/9
Iran/Luristan: Bronze Bangle Bracelet
Middle East
1400 – 700 B.C.
Materials: Bronze

This object is a bronze bangle bracelet. The ends of each terminal have two stylized duck heads. The heads are flat and face away from the opening with circles carved on each side as eyes. The heads sit on separate oval shaped planes, which attach to a small circle on the bracelet’s band. The body of the bracelet has three bands. The outer bands are decorated with dot indentations, while the center band has “v” stamped decorative striations. The inside of the bracelet is smooth. The bracelet is nearly a perfect circle, with a few slight bends.

It is believed the origin of bracelets dates back approximately 7,000 years to ancient Egypt. Bracelets were made of wood, bone, and plant fibers initially, and later of copper and bronze. The earliest known bracelets in the Middle East were worn by the Sumerians who inhabited Southern Mesopotamia around 2500 B.C. Bracelets, as well as earrings, necklaces, and rings, were worn by women to show off the wealth and social status of their husbands. Jewelry often had religious connotations in addition to the perception of wealth and adornment.

The use of the duck in ancient Iranian art symbolized their belief that ducks were one of only a few creatures able to pass between the “Three Worlds” — Underworld, our World, and Realm of the Sky. Ducks were at home on land or water; they dove or fed beneath the surface of the water, which was considered the entrance to the Underworld. Finally, they were able to fly into the sky amidst the clouds and out of human sight.

This bracelet is from the Luristan territory (also known as Loristan) along the western Iran and eastern Iraq border. The first known people to occupy the territories currently inhabited by the Lurs were the Elamites, who settled in the area as early as 3000 B.C. Later the Kassites, who were known for their bronze artifacts, lived in Luristan around the second millennium B.C. The Kassites conquered Babylonia in 1747 B.C. and continued to dominate Mesopotamia for the next six centuries.

[Debra Taylor]

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