Votive alabaster sculpture decorated with a row of bulls and an ibix
South Arabia, Yemen? III-IV century AD
13,8 x 6,8 x 2,7 cm
Provenance: French private collection
Rectangular in form, the upper surface is decorated with graved stylized building and in the front appeared a row of 7 aligned bulls and one ibex with almond-shaped eyes and incised triangular snouts, surrounding a central graved cross.
The animals are delightfully stylized in a classical South Arabian manner, with wonderfully symmetrical form, while the alabaster glows a warm cream color.
This very interesting object had a funerary or votive fonction and it was intended to be placed in a tomb. The animal’s row is typical of South Arabian stylized style and the presence of the Christian Cross in the center make this objet particularly interesting, an art work at the crossword of two traditions.
Pre-Islamic religions in Arabia included Arabian indigenous polytheistic beliefs, ancient Semitic religions (religions predating the Abrahamic religions which themselves likewise originated among the ancient Semitic-speaking peoples), various forms of Christianity, Judaism, Manichaeism, and Zoroastrianism.
The history of Pre-Islamic Arabia before the rise of Islam in the 610s is not known in great detail.
Archaeological exploration in the Arabian peninsula has been sparse; indigenous written sources are limited to the many inscriptions and coins from southern Arabia. Existing material consists primarily of written sources from other traditions (such as Egyptians, Greeks, Persians, Romans, etc.) and oral traditions later recorded by Islamic scholars. Many small kingdoms prospered from Red sea and Indian Ocean trade.
22 000 €