83 • A Lapis Lazuli Three-Faced Pazuzu on a Gold Electrum Pin

Ancient Bactria, 700 BC
Size: 19.5 cm long

The wonderful quality and colour of the lapis lazuli, and its superb carving, mark this pin out as one of the finest known fashion accessories from ancient Bactria. The refinement of the layered hair-style is only matched by the beard-styles and hair-styles of the great royal portraits in bronze of Mesopotamia. The mighty Oxus was the artery of the scattered oases that stretched north-westwards from Afghanistan into Central Asia, controlling the trade throughout Asia. Electrum gold was panned from the rivers and typical of this early period, before pure gold was refined from it. Pazuzu was king of the demons of wind in Assyrian and Babylonian myth. Like wind, he travelled far, and became popular as an amulet for protection in childbirth.

A report of the scientific examination by Striptwist Laboratory is available.