AUD $180.00

Indian, Bronze "Cow" Rhyton

A nineteenth century, (or earlier*) small vessel  "rhyton" (?) with a Cow’s neck and head
(with a garland or necklace around the neck) designed to scoop up liquid, (wine or milk?)
with a finger covering the hole in the cow’s mouth.
Then, either for drinking or for offering libations, with that finger removed from the hole.
You can drizzle the liquid from the small hole in it’s mouth.

Well balanced, comfortably easy and safe to hold.

This is one of a pair,(search also IR100) but they are slightly different,
in decoration, jewellery and probably gender, note the horns.
But these minor differences are to be expected, being individually sculpted and cast from wax,
in the “cire perdue” (lost wax) process.
Usually they’re cast in one piece, as I think is the case here.
(But in Islamic tradition, seperately caste brass pieces can then be soldered together
to achieve a more complicated “composite” result.)

In perfect condition, except for an abrasive mark around the rim
revealing possibly a remnant of the metal that scraped it (?)
All to one side when the cow is in profile.
And of course some historic dents (recoloured) only visible when rotated in the light.

Rhyton from the Greek “rhuton” (to flow or liquid.)
Wikipedia suggests, that the Greeks brought this design back,
and rapidly adopted it as theirs, after victories over the Persians,
who already had a history of it’s design and use.
See the “Oxus Horde” for a magnficent gold one, much larger than this.
These are smaller than your traditional “drinking horn” but show all the signs
of being “rhyta” (plural.) In volume, they’re more like a “Sherry Glass”
than a wine horn, and hold about one third of a cup.

In fact I originally puzzled over their purpose, and initally thought they were
decorative caps for the tips of cows’ horns, used in Hindu processions.
Very feasible size and orifice, easily possible, and very Hindu in appearance.
Then I saw the small round hole “in” the mouth, on checking it’s partner
there was the same hole! Not from the casting process, this hole was precisely placed,
therefore for a reason.

Querying it with Abdul, he said,
“It’s a ”rhyton"! Used for scooping a liquid then drinking or pouring for …"
(Having just read Wikipedia, it sounded like a direct quote! But he hadn’t read it.)

*it could easily be older judging by the richness of the patina,
but doesn’t exhibit any signs of excessive handling, other than the polished tone
of this surface.
(it’s as deep as you see on Italian Renaissance Bronzes from the 14th and 15th centuries)
And if it’s pre 1857 it could accurately be termed “Moghul”,
with further research (in a perfect world) we might even determine it’s history stylistically.
Also as with all Indian antiques, it could be from what is now termed Pakistan,
but still be pre partition Indian.

(I've just found a line drawing of one of these on the web, possibly suggesting it was from Southern India and represented Nandi, being used in worshipping Shiva.)

Age: Nineteenth Century (or possibly earlier.)

Size: L 91 mm x x H 52 mm

Weight: 229 grams.