Three-Piece Bit

DATE:
800–600 BCE
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Bronze
CLASSIFICATION:
Tools and Equipment
DIMENSIONS:
4 1/2 × 8 3/4 × 5 in. (11.43 × 22.23 × 12.7 cm)
DEPARTMENT:
Classical Art
LOCATION:
Not On View
CREDIT LINE:
Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Leigh B. Block
OBJECT NUMBER:
1974.75

General Description

This Luristanian horse bit makes an interesting comparison with a more elaborate Villanovan horse bit (1969.6), also in the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art. The Near Eastern bit combines cast cheek pieces (probably from the same bivalve mold) and a cold-worked bar, one end of which spirals up and the other down. The imaginary animal ornamentation is fairly restrained in comparison with other horse trappings from Luristan. Monster heads facing each other on the monster's tails form the lower rim. In bits like these, the crossbar fitted in the horse's mouth and was controlled by the cheek pieces. The bit reins were attached to the rings at the bottom of the cheek pieces.

Scholars do not agree as to whether these elaborate kinds of bronze horse trappings were designed for burials or were used in life and buried with the dead person, although some do appear to have wear on the bar piece. Both men and women were buried with horse trappings, which indicates the vital role that riding and driving played in ancient Iran. If these people were not actually nomads, the free life of horse riders on the Iranian plateau clearly defined much of their culture.

Adapted from

Anne R. Bromberg and Karl Kilinski II, Gods, Men, and Heroes: Ancient Art at the Dallas Museum of Art. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1996. 36.