Four Plaques: Standingn Argali; “Snow Leopard Mask” Consisting of Two Facing Ibex Heads and Flying Bird; Two Addorsed Deer Heads; Perched Raptor (Vulture?)

These plaques come from a rich burial excavated in 2003-2004. The Scytho-Siberian animal style can be quite naturalistic, as seen in the perched raptor or the mountain sheep standing on tiptoe. A more abstracting trend is called “zoomorphic juncture,” where parts of one animal are transformed into another, An especially sophisticated example of this is seen in the “Snow Leopard Mask,” which takes its name from the overall impression of a composition made up from two profile mountain goat heads and a soaring bird seen from above. The two voids below the goat horns form the ears of the leopard; the two voids between the chins of the goats and the wing of the birds are the leopard’s eyes; and the back of the bird forms the nose. In addition, the wings of the bird become the necks of the goat heads. The plaques from Shilikty are all cast in molds, and small gold loops were soldered onto the backs so they could be sewn onto clothing.