Male Shaman Figure

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Male Shaman Figure

C. 12 - 8th Century B.C., Caucasus
H: 7.6cm



Standing bronze male figure, one hand held to his chest, the other extended in front. The extended arm ending in an over-sized hand, which would have held a spear or possibly a thunderbolt. With stylised facial features, the mouth open in an ‘O’, the ears ringed, possibly to hold earrings, and a tall crown.
This dynamic idol appears captured in the midst of a gesture, the extended hand accompanying a shout shown by the open mouth. This, the strong wide stance and emphatic genitalia give the figure a ferocious, war-like appearance and speak to a possibly apotropaic function.
This figure was catalogued when in the collection of Jay Leff in the 60s as hailing from the Caucasus, a large and complex region which is centred around the Caucasian mountain range, bounded by the Black and Caspian seas and bordered by the Kuban and Terek rivers in the north and the Kura and Araxes rivers in the south, which produced complex bronze-work.


‘Near Eastern and Far Eastern Art from the Collection of Jay C. Leff’’, The American Federation of Art, New York, 5th August – 29th September, 1965.


J. Haskin, Near Eastern and Far Eastern Art from the Collection of Jay C. Leff (Exhibition Catalogue), New York, 1965, no. 39.
David Aaron Ltd, 2023, No. 24.


Previously in the Private Collection of Mr Jay C. Leff (1925-2000), Uniontown, Pennsylvania, from at least 1965.
Thence by descent to his children Erin and Scott Leff. 
Thence by descent.
ALR: S00224369, with IADAA Certificate, this item has been checked against the Interpol database.

Note on the Provenance

Jay Calvin Leff (1925-2000), former president of the Fayette Bank and Trust Company of Uniontown, Pa, was an omnivorous collector from the 1950s to the 70s of African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Arts as well as Antiquities. In an exhibition entitled “Ancient Art of Latin America,” nearly 500 objects from his collection of primitive arts were exhibited at The Brooklyn Museum occupying almost two galleries from 22nd November 1966 – 5th March 1967. Artworks from his collection were also famously exhibited at the Carnegie Institute (Pittsburgh), the American Federation of Arts (New York), the American Museum of Natural History (New York).

He amassed a collection of about 2,000 artworks many of which are now in the permanent collections of American institutions. He began his collecting activities with 18th-20th century Asian carvings, in particular Japanese netsuke, but soon moved into the collecting of non-Western antiquities and so-called ‘tribal art’. As he put it in the introduction to an exhibition of his collection at the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, in 1959, “I hope, in exposing my collection to public scrutiny, I may thereby encourage others to charge brazenly into the art world or any other world, regardless of which areas of those worlds may first divert their attention.”