Rhyton in the form of a Zebu bull
Rhyton in the form of a Zebu bull

Image Resources | Currently on View in Leah and Charles Redish Gallery

Rhyton in the form of a Zebu bull

Neo-Elamite Period


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

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.

Object Information

nationality
Persian
period
Neo-Elamite Period
creation date
about 1000-800 B.C.
materials
earthenware
dimensions
9 1/2 x 12 1/2 in.
accession number
75.301
credit line
Gift of Grain Dealers Mutual Insurance Co.
copyright
Public Domain
collection
Asian Art
colors