Anatolia, Saljūq period, eleventh-twelfth century
Copper alloy, iron
This mace is of the same long slender type as cat, no. 230. It is unique in that its head is cast in the form of a dragon with sharp fangs swallowing a bull with a protruding tongue. There is a harpy or bird moulded along the back of the neck, The motif is ancient1 but it continued to be used throughout the Islamic period, especially in Anatolia and Iran. This type of dragon with long and sometimes curling jaws is a Turkic interpretation of the beast, and animals of similar form are represented on a stirrup said to have been found in south eastern Anatolia.2 The collection also holds a small sword pommel in the form of an open-jawed dragon devouring what appears to be a human head (cat, no. 71).
1 Hartner 1938.
2 Yeganeh Collection. Frankfurt, present whereabouts unknown.
Iran, Saljūq period, twelfth-fourteenth century
L. 62 cm
The head of the mace is cast as a frontal lion's head and made in one with the long tapering haft with spherical terminal. This seems to be an example of the type of mace called ‛amūd in the 'Abbāsid period.1
The Saljūq vizier Niẓām al-Mulk mentions officials who carried what seems to have been a long slender staff, probably a type of mace represented in later miniature painting.2 It is also similar to one depicted on an inkwell from Herat dateable to the twelfth century.3 The type persisted in ceremonial contexts, as shown by a Turkoman painting of 900/1494 depicting the court of Sultan 'Alī Mirza of Gilan where a standing courtier holds a long slender mace with a lion or dragon-shaped head.4
Bibliography: Furusiyya 1996, II, no.84 (iii); Chevaux et cavaliers arabes 2002, no. 63.
1 Al-Sarraf 2002, pp. 152-54 and Introduction, pp. 235-36.
2 Burton-Page 1965, pp. 627-28.
3Allan 1982, no. 1.
4 Robinson 1979,Pl. LXVIII.