Jump, Goat, Jump

Before anyone gives me any grief about it, I know the problems with the archeology surrounding this piece.

The Goat Bowl

In truth, it isn’t the archeology as much as what’s happened to the archeology: antiquities are sometimes used for purposes of imperial aggrandizement, and the facts often suffer in the presentation. But the indignity imposed on this little pot is fun to see, and I’m prepared to ignore the attempts of the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization to reframe content and timeline for their own purposes, and just enjoy what they recently published.

Here is the painting on the bowl stretched out.

The Leaping Goat

Click the picture to see all 5 leaping goat images.

The artifact on which these goats (this goat, as you will see) are painted came from a grave site in Sistan and Baluchestan Province in modern Iran, excavated by Italian and Iranian teams beginning in the 1970’s, with work on artifacts continuing today.

Go here for an overview of the site and some of the work: Burnt City, Key to lost civilization but bear in mind this is not a scholarly website and offers some imaginative interpretations of the material.

Getting back to the leaping goat(s). Someone looking at this sweet little bowl noticed the sequence of goat paintings, and has used the magic of digital editing to combine them into a Zoetrope-like presentation that has real charm. See it here:

http://www.cais-soas.com/News/2008/March2008/04-03.htm where the goat leaps up to bite the fronds of the tree.

Academics, lighten up. This goat animation is cute as the dickens, and I do not think very many people will be deceived into believing the Shahr-e-Sookhteharians had laptops on which to view the result. Just give up being offended by the “inauthenticity” of it and smile for a minute. It’s remarkable enough that some early artist conceived the technique of animation “cells” much like those created by the Disney animators — even if they were to be viewed statically– and that some analyst in a museum room full of old pots recognized the effect.

Besides, that wild goat jumping reminds me of my “domesticated” Jacob Sheep, who will also jump to get what they want.

Published in: on March 11, 2008 at 12:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

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