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Institute for the Study of the Ancient World

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Round Tray on Conical Stand with Figures of Seated Man and Standing Horse in Center

A seated mustached man dressed in trousers and tunic sits cross-legged, holding a cup in his right hand. He shares a gaze with a bridled horse standing stock still. The force of their gaze underscores the strength of the human-horse communication that was a significant factor in the lives of the mobile pastoralists of Iron Age Kazakhstan. Horses aided in the herding of animals, moved people between the seasonal pastures, and carried warriors into combat. Made of bronze, the base, dish, horse and human figures were cast separately and then combined into this powerful, balanced composition. The function of such stands is not known. It has been suggested that they were incense burners or perhaps offering stands. Certainly the contemplative composition, placed on an openwork base of arced bands, conveys a central essence of mobile pastoral life. And the careful rendering of details of the two figures give immediacy to their presence.
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