Central Asia, Bactria-Margiana (BMAC) (Oxus Civilization), Bronze Age, ca. 2nd millennium BCE. A fascinating head and cap from an idol figure of a type found in the modern countries of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, giving us a hint to the ancient culture that flourished there over three thousand years ago. The head itself is carved from a milky-white limestone, with a face dominated by large, almond-shaped eyes with thick outlines, a small, lifelike nose, and a closed mouth; ears are at the side of the head. The neck is wide and extends downward quite a ways, as it was made to be inserted into the torso of a larger figure. Atop the head, as a separate piece, is a black chlorite cap or coiffure with an incised geometric pattern of lines and triangles. Based on other known examples, it is likely that this head is meant to be that of a woman. Size: 1" W x 1.75" H (2.5 cm x 4.4 cm); 4.5" H (11.4 cm) on included custom stand.
This head would have graced a cuboid body, probably also made of chlorite, wearing a kaunakes, or tufted garment, with a rounded front neckline. The kaunakes was originally a Sumerian garment that traveled along the Silk Road and became popular in Bactria. Composite statuettes like this one, with the head composed of a different material than the body, have been found in the graves of women. Were they intended to represent the individual buried, or a deity? Until archaeologists uncover more information, the mystery remains.
See a complete example at Christie's that sold for $68,500: https://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Lot/a-bactrian-composite-stone-seated-female-figure-5443202-details.aspx and another at the Louvre: https://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/composite-female-statuette
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection; ex-private French collection, acquired in the 1970s
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Small hole in back of the "cap". Surface wear commensurate with age, including some tiny chips and nicks, but overall in nice condition, with excellent remaining detail. Encrustation in lower profile areas.