A Luristan bronze finial of the ‘Master of the Animals’ type. The central anthropomorphic tube bears a Janus-head with prominent nose and ears, and he holds off a snarling beast on either side.
The Master of the Animals was a supernatural protector of game, the ruler of the forest, and the guardian of the entire animal kingdom. He is depicted as a human figure standing between the heads, necks, and stylised bodies of equestrian creatures presented in profile. The figure’s grasp on the animals has been interpreted by some as a sign of control.
The precise function of objects like this is unknown, and remains one of the mysteries of antiquity. Suggestions range from the religious – depictions of deities, idols, talismans, etc. – to the utilitarian – adornments for chariots or articles used in funerary rituals.