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  Clay Horn (AN1971.850) Back to previous page

Clay Horn (AN1971.850) Clay replica of a curving bull's horn in Black and Red Polished ware, decorated with incised chevron bands and lozenges. Like the dagger [AN1974.355 below left], this is probably a clay model of a real bull's horn, possibly adapted for use as a container or (perhaps more likely) a drinking horn. Similar clay horns have been found in a number of Early Bronze Age tombs. Bulls' horns used as symbolic containers for valuable substances (particularly special oils) and as ceremonial drinking vessels have a long history in many parts of the world, including the Near East and Egypt, where they were often provided with ivory mounts. The two small holes set close together at one side of the rim of the clay horn may represent the holes for a cord which allowed the real thing to be hung on a wall or slung from a belt.


As with the clay dagger [AN1974.355 left], the firing of the clay has been carefully controlled. In this case, while most of the horn is black, its tip shades into a yellowish colour. This gives a good impression of the often mottled appearance of real horn.

There is no doubt that early Cypriot society, from the Early Bronze Age onwards, laid great stress on the bull as an important ritual or religious symbol, as is clear from the numerous representations of bulls and bulls' heads [e.g. AN1888.625, AN1971.856, below]. As in the Near East and Egypt, where bulls are often linked to particular deities, it was probably associated especially with ideas of strength and power, though some of the representations in clay also suggest that it was regarded by Cypriot potters as a somewhat less than frightening creature [e.g. AN1971.856 below right].

Other Details:
Red Polished III, c. 2000 BC. No provenance.
Vassos Karageorghis, The coroplastic art of ancient Cyprus, vol. I, p. 114 no. 5.
Related Objects (click on image to go to object)
Dagger and Sheath Vessel with bull's head two-headed animal vessel
Clay Dagger, AN1974.355 Bull, AN1888.625 AN1971.856
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