The Vasil Bojkov Collection is one of the most diverse and well-preserved private collections of ancient art. There is a good number of bronze, silver and golden artifacts that date back from 4000 BC up to the 6th century AD. Arriving from different lands, all of those archeological items offer a glimpse of antique historical cultures, civilizations, rituals, belief systems, customs, traditions and much more. There are artefacts that were produced in workshops across the Middle and Near East, Thrace and Macedonia, Asia Minor, Scythia in the North Black Sea steppes, North Aegean coast, Etruria and many other places.
Vasil Bojkov’s considerable group of assortments consists of ancient bronze horns, vases and utensils with interesting inscriptions, rhyta, vases and utensils, including various forms of silver drinking cups with intriguing decorations of gilded figures. The group of metal ware also has what to impress us with. Some of the pieces bear the names of their owners and others are striking for showing representations of famous Greek heroes and mythical scenes. Among some of the most interesting examples, however, are the silver and gold horns that terminate with animal heads. And the piece we are looking at here is precisely a horn with a strongly stylized lion head final. Supposedly, this artefact is made by hammering up from a cast blank, whereas some of the visible details on the lion head termination are rendered by shallow chiseling.
Even though the silver horn itself lacks any decoration, the animal-like final seems to compensate this plainness in the style. The maker has decided to depict the fierce lion with an open mouth, easy to notice sharp canines and triangular nostrils. This ferocious expression is something quite common for representations of animals and monsters used in the Archaic Greek art. The detailed work on this element of the horn is simply exquisite. There are stylistic features that make the artefact really interesting to observe. For instance, tiny dots that run along the upper half of the mouth contour of the animal, whereas miniscule ovals highlight the lower half. The creator obviously paid attention to the ears, the eyes, as well as the head of the gold lion. The semicircular ears have three radial lines inside, the eyes are somewhat almond-shape, and hair locks are finely chiseled stylized as a finishing touch. Interestingly enough, the vase doesn’t represent a typical rhyton since there is no secondary opening.
Finally, just like the mysteries that surround every single artefact, this one also has its own – its origin. While the background of some pieces can be easily traced and ascribed to a specific workshop or land, the VBC exemplar raises certain questions. It is quite difficult to tell where it has been crafted for sure. Fortunately, due to specific features, type of rendering, and analogies shared with other similar vessels, archeologists and experts in antiquity date this particular artefact to the first quarter of the 6th century BC (somewhere between 600-575 BC) and consider it a creation that derives from an Anatolian workshop.