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Old 7th October 2022, 06:47 AM   #1
AHorsa
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Default What a creature do I have here?

Dear All,

does anyoknow the origin and meaning of that strange creature?
I assume it is possibly not European, but Indian or Asian? Or something Nordic? Does anyone have a better idea? Dimensions: 21x12x10cm / 8.3x4.7x4inch

I am happy about any idea!

Kind regards
Andreas
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Old 7th October 2022, 12:32 PM   #2
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What a fascinating carving, Andreas! Where did you find it? Any info at all on this piece? Seems genuinely old with weathering/patina. Perhaps the type of wood (if we could identify it) might help give us an origin. In profile, it reminds me of Singhalese kastane and 'dog head' hangers from Shri Lanka, but who knows...
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Old 7th October 2022, 02:58 PM   #3
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Thanks for your reply. It comes from an auction in Germany and was contemporary mounted on a 19th century furniture decoration (s. image).
Sadly I have no idea on the sort of wood.
Indeed, the Sinhalese depictions has some analogy. But there is many points I find strange on this depiction:

The position of the nose and the something below (red arrows)
The strange stylised cheek-bones
The decorations on the neck of the creature
The hole in the "nose"

I did some scratchy research but could´t find equivalends asian carvings.

Kind regards
Andreas
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Old 8th October 2022, 08:41 AM   #4
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19th c? I would have guessed earlier

Yes, it is a strange mystery. The reasons I thought of the Singhalese connection was directly because of the strange 'collar' design of the neck on yours resembling some kastane hilts, plus the positioning of the ears on yours again similar. Many of the designs for the hilts were, much like kris hilts, very abstract. The Shri Lankans used many symbols of stylized lions in their art, weapons, currency and, of course, flags. Furniture, by the same token, began using lions as claw feet in the early Baroque period. I was hoping someone far more knowledgeable would swoop in to help us at this point!
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Old 8th October 2022, 09:14 AM   #5
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Quote:
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19th c? I would have guessed earlier
The furniture parts are 19th century (I guess). I am with you that the carved head might be earlier.
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Old 8th October 2022, 11:11 AM   #6
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It might be lack of sleep (I'm a night shift nurse), but I had some other thoughts on this piece. The finish on it appears rough, but not just from age, but as if made that way? If so, probably not furniture. The open 'mouth' could be to hold a rope (banner? A sail rope?) or bannister if this item were flat/vertical against a wall? From my nautical interests, I even contemplated if this were a cat's head or some figurehead for a Thai prow! You see what sleep deprivation can produce!?

https://www.scottishmaritimemuseum.o...ark-cats-head/

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Old 8th October 2022, 10:34 PM   #7
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Looks to me like it depict a Makara, an indian sea creature with an elephant trunk. (to me, the trunk is reversed back the nose/head). First picture from the Guimet Museum, second my vision of the trunk, and last, the two trunk hole from above
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Old 9th October 2022, 09:52 AM   #8
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Thank you for your replies and thoughts!

I think the Makara might be a pretty possible solution!

Kind regards!
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Old 9th October 2022, 12:36 PM   #9
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That really does fit the bill nicely! Now we can ponder if it was a piece from a temple, wall mount or as originally depicted, lying flat on a surface and possibly as a decoration for a larger piece of furniture. Altar???
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Old 9th October 2022, 01:03 PM   #10
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Makara is a creature serving Varuna, the god of water. Makara are considered guardian of doors and entrance, and are generally depicted in hindouist architecture. Mostly as gargoyles or corbel. The heavy weathered state of the sculpture would indicate an outdoor use in my opinion
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Old 10th October 2022, 06:09 PM   #11
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It crossed my mind. Also, since a Germanic/Scandinavian origin was mentioned a historicism for a Viking ships prow?
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Old 11th October 2022, 11:16 PM   #12
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This could be a depiction of front part of a leaping horse, with saddle and reins. The upper side of head is heavily deteoriated, but we see reins, nostrils and mouth. The object is currently mounted in the wrong way. It surely was kept outside, looks like a corbel.

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Old 12th October 2022, 10:51 AM   #13
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That would be the correct orientation:
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Old 12th October 2022, 10:53 AM   #14
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Front view:
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Old 12th October 2022, 06:18 PM   #15
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Great ! Looks better. I clearly see the horse and the équipement. You can probably put the makara idea aside !
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Old 12th October 2022, 08:54 PM   #16
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Great! That really makes sense. I took it upside down the whole time
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Old 13th October 2022, 04:00 AM   #17
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Amazing! Yep, I see it now. Pretty cool and also fun trying to solve the mystery! I was thinking a Thai naga prow as well until we actually spot the horse!
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Old 16th October 2022, 04:15 PM   #18
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Call me crazy, but I see a turtle; possibly Inuit, North Western American Indian?

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Old 19th October 2022, 10:41 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav View Post
This could be a depiction of front part of a leaping horse, with saddle and reins. The upper side of head is heavily deteoriated, but we see reins, nostrils and mouth. The object is currently mounted in the wrong way. It surely was kept outside, looks like a corbel.
Well-done! Great eye! I could only add that even wear on this piece may indicate that it was used for hanging things on it, or as a handle/pull.
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