Feline Face and Stylized Ornaments from Horse Tack

Frontal depictions of animals frequently appear as horse tack decorations in the Pazyryk culture. At Berel they appear most often as feline masks, combined with schematized floral or zoomorphic ornaments, such as lotus blossoms or stylized elk heads. The masks recall frontally depicted lion heads in Achaemenid art, but they have clearly been transformed according to local preference to depict a specific species of wildcat. Frontal images like these might have had a protective or apotropaic meaning in a funerary context.