Rhyton in the form of a Zebu bull

 
Nationality
Persian
Creation date
Period
Neo-Elamite Period
Materials
earthenware
Dimensions
9 1/2 x 12 1/2 in.
Credit line
Gift of Grain Dealers Mutual Insurance Co.
Accession number
75.301
Collection
Currently On View In
Leah and Charles Redish Gallery - K312

The Zebu is a bull native to the Indus Valley, in what is now India and Pakistan.  Many theriomorphic (animal-shaped) drinking vessels of this sort have been found in the Gilan province of northwestern Iran. The Elamite civilization spanned Mesopotamia, Persia and Babylonia, and there was constant contact between the civilizations. The rhyton may be related to the Persian cult of Mithras, which involved the sacrifice of bulls as tribute to this sun god.  According to mythology, Mithras battled the Bull of Heaven, an embodiment of the natural world, and as a result of his victory human civilizations were granted successful harvests.

Given to the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 1975
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Egyptian and Near Eastern Art

The Zebu is a bull native to the Indus Valley, in what is now India and Pakistan.  Many theriomorphic (animal-shaped) drinking vessels of this sort have been found in the Gilan province of northwestern Iran. The Elamite civilization spanned Mesopotamia, Persia and Babylonia, and there was constant contact between the civilizations. The rhyton may be related to the Persian cult of Mithras, which involved the sacrifice of bulls as tribute to this sun god.  According to mythology, Mithras battled the Bull of Heaven, an embodiment of the natural world, and as a result of his victory human civilizations were granted successful harvests.