Unusual Bronze Bird-Like Askos Is Part Of Vasil Bojkov’s Unique Collection
Thursday, 29 November 2018

An extremely rare bronze, bird-like askos forms part of Vassil Bojkov’s unique collection of artefacts. It is thought to have been influenced by Thracian, Anatolian, Greek, and other cultures. The entire object is covered by dark, olive green patina with several reddish-brown spots. The exact origin of the askos is unfortunately unknown.


Bird-like Askos


The askos was used as a pouring vessel and is modeled in the shape of a bird. The excellent work of the ancient craftsmen can be admired from the “head” of the askos to its very tail. You will instantly recognise two folded wings represented by the drop-shaped protuberances. There is a triangular tail as a nice finishing touch, adding to the look and structure of the bronze item.

If we explore the bird-like askos even closer, we can notice there are some missing elements, given away by the somewhat rectangular joining traces left on it. Comparing it to other pottery askoi, these lost details could have been small outstretched wings. Moving up, there is a large cylindrical neck and instead of a bird’s head, the neck is complete with a wide opening for a mouth.

A nicely formed neckline (collar) decorates just the end of the neck. Other adorning features have been clearly and visibly preserved. A twelve-petal palmette with two long stemmed buds of palm inflorescence, extends over the back and gently touches the strap handle. Fascinatingly, there is only one other know askos with a wide round mouth that is comparable to this example in Bojkov’s collection. The vase is found in Naukratis and is dated 630-600 BC. It belongs to the Aeolian Wild Goat Style.


Askos ornaments and details

Despite the fact that the exact origin of Vasil Bojkov’s bird-askos cannot be pinpointed, there are some elements that are really crucial for the dating and the localization of this particular vase. Precisely, its mouth, handle, and attachment. The handle of the askos has three distinct components that create a near-circular section. They are positioned one next to another and form a band. It is discovered and observed that handles of this type appear on many Ibero-Phoenician oinochoae made of bronze and silver.

Some scholars have dated them as far back as the second quarter of the 8th century BC. Another resemblance between these artefacts and the Bojkov vase is the Phoenician palmette element we see on the photo. Palmette decorations of this sort can be also seen on Phoenician miniature ivory oinochoae and on their Samian imitations. Such similarities leave no doubts about the common origins of the bird-askos in the Vassil Bojkov Collection and the rest of the objects mentioned above.

As well, the common features that hint towards the East-Phoenicial origin of the bird-like askos do not end here. Aside from the engraved palmette, there is the one-piece casting technique used, in addition to the rim profile of the artefact. In his book Metal Vases & Utensils in the Vassil Bojkov Collection, vol. Athanasios Siderislooks at this particular piece in greater detail and points out that “It was probably one of those vases that inspired later, in the 6th century BC, the production of siren-askoi in Laconia and Etruria.”

The bird-like askos dates back to the 630-600 BC.


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