Cypriot Limestone Male Head with a Conical Helmet
End of the 7th - beginning of the 6th century B.C.
H: 30 cm
The head belonged to an over life size statue of an adult male in the prime of life. He wears a conical helmet, whose side flaps, used to protect the cheeks, are raised and indicated by a vertical line in relief. At the nape of the neck, the helmet,which was probably made of leather, is cut short; the ears are not covered.
The carving of this sculpture is typically Cypriot: contrary to other heads with more elaborate details – notably the rendering of the coiffure and the beard are very simple – the sculptor of this piece preferred to accent its linearity, the planes of the face all converging to a point. The forms are simple and stylized, with some details carved in relief, but without rounded and modeled volumes. The line that traverses the cheeks ends towards the chin – indicated at the clearly marked edge of the beard; the profile of the man is also linear, with a pointed, elongated nose; the frontal view is slightly asymmetric. The helmet with raised flaps identifies this person as a dignitary who offered an image of himself to a god in a sanctuary.
Like in the Greek world, it is in the 7th century that monumental Cypriot stone sculpture was born, carved almost exclusively in the local calcite, since marble was never found on the island. Over life size masculine and feminine images, found most often in the sanctuaries on the island, constitute the principal subject of this art, which, probably because of the absence of ” noble ” stones, never attained the popularity of terracotta in Cypriot tastes.
Art market, prior to 1830’s;
Ex- Amiral Charles Jaurès (1808-1870) collection, France, 1830’s.
KARAGEORGHIS V., Ancient Art from Cyprus, the Cesnola Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2000, pp. 108-111.
SPITERIS T., The Art of Cyprus, New York, 1970, pp. 162-163.