The Lion of Monsoon


Alike in the nineteenth century in the Monzon Castle in Palencia, Today it is in the Louvre Museum Paris, This bronze lion of Muslim origin, possibly taken as booty during the Christian reconquest, and was found in the nineteenth century in the ruins of the old castle. Its last owner was Maria Fortuny Spain, is unknown as it reaches the Louvre, but it seems a private sale.

-Designation : Lion tail with articulated
-Place of production : Muslim Spain
-Date / Period : XII Century, the previous
-Materials and techniques : Bronze casting and engraving with burin
-Dimensions : A. 30,08 cm; the. 54 cm
-City Condition : Paris
-Preservation Location : Louvre, Department of Arts of Islam
-Stock Number : 7883

Thea fiera, powerfully stylized, relies on its hind legs slightly folded. The forelegs, short and rigid, are lying on the same line. The muzzle is wide open, mouth as a source. The probable function is confirmed by a hole placed under the belly. The inclination of the body back is corrected with a tail termination decorated with rosettes, articulated on a hinge. A fine engraved decoration lines the body. The mane is represented by parallel loops. The legs are lined with circles and rosettes. The flanks carry an epigraphic panel. Eyes, almond-shaped, are in strong relief, Eyebrow and draw around the head full circle.

Discovered in the nineteenth century in Monzón de Campos, in a castle near Palencia and had been retaken by the Christians in the eleventh century, the object raises many questions. We question their function - source element or cauldron? - And his execution date: XII century, or later. The object has been associated with a small lion statuette Fatimid, conducted in Egypt to the XI-XII centuries, and whose mouth is shaped neck. However, Monzon lion, completely different bill, approaches in many features to the bronzes of the Caliphate of Córdoba (929-1031): same eye almond, same decoration composed of foliage terminating decorated with rosettes (already employed in the mural decoration of the Umayyad palaces in Syria and Jordan), same static nature that affects the body and ornamentation. If the execution is less complete than that of bronzes made "in the royal workshops of Córdoba», to use the expression of the historian al-Maqqari (1577-1632), may be older than it is believed. Principles of the twelfth century??

Because of its gaping snout, Monzon lion probably served mouth source. In the bronze deer Madinat al-Zahra (after 936), preserved in the Archaeological Museum of Cordoba, the water was for the tabular conduit socket, passed into the legs and, then, arose from his snout. The lion preserved in the museum of Kassel, a tube emerges yet mouth. Objects were associated with architectural decoration of palaces and hence were inspired by oriental models no less prestigious. However, has not survived any large animal coming from the East Abbasid, apart from a harnessed horse designed reduction and some birds life size.

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