Ivory mirror handle


British Museum

British Museum

This beautifully carved and decorated handle must originally have been attached to a circular bronze hand-mirror belonging to a wealthy individual, which accompanied them to the grave. In common with most Cypriot ivories of the Late Bronze Age, the decoration shows a mixture of influences from east and west. The lion attacking the bull is a familiar motif in Mycenaean art, while the theme of a warrior slaying a griffin owes its inspiration to Western Asia. The scene is particularly vivid: the warrior, elaborately dressed and armed, lunges towards the griffin, which throws back its head in a despairing attitude. The outcome of the contest - the death of the griffin - is in no doubt. The theme may derive from a now unknown tale of heroism: the underlying symbolism is perhaps connected to the idea of man's defeat of the forces of chaos.

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  • Title: Ivory mirror handle
  • Date Created: -1250/-1050
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 20.20cm; Width: 8.70cm; Thickness: 2.20cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: carved; drilled
  • Subject: griffin; mammal; warrior
  • Registration number: 1897,0401.872
  • Production place: Made in Cyprus
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Enkomi
  • Period/culture: Late Cypriot IIC; Late Cypriot III
  • Material: ivory
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Excavated by Turner Bequest Excavations, Enkomi. Funded by Turner, Emma Tourner


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