I receive a lot of email notices of auction sales. This morning an email circular from Christie’s had this fragment of a leopard serving as the illustration at the top. I liked it enough that I decided to look, unlikely as the chance would be, just in case it might be selling for only a few hundred dollars. I thought Karen would enjoy owning it as a decorative bibelot.
Clicking on the image, though, only took me to a sanctimonious pledge about carbon neutral auctioneering. Pah!
So I decided to capture the image and give it a search.
Lot 33. A Mesopotamian inlaid limestone leopard, Late Uruk – Jemdet Nasr period, circa 3300-2900 B.C.; 2 ¼ in. (5.8 cm.) high. Estimate GBP 150,000 – GBP 250,000. Price realised GBP 212,500.
Provenance: Private collection, New York, 1960s.
with Mathias Komor, New York.
Leo Mildenberg (1913-2001) collection, Zurich, acquired from the above in the mid-1970s.
A Peaceable Kingdom: The Leo Mildenberg Collection of Ancient Animals; Christie’s, London, 26-27 October 2004, lot 153.
Exhibited: The Cleveland Museum of Art, Animals in Ancient Art from the Leo Mildenberg Collection, 21 October-29 November 1981.
Munich, Prähistorische Staatssammlung; Mannheim, Reiss-Museum; Jerusalem, Bible Lands Museum; Bonn, Akademisches Kunstmuseum; Stendal, Winckelmann-Museum, Out of Noah’s Ark: Animals in Ancient Art from the Leo Mildenberg Collection, 11 October 1996-28 June 1999.
Published: A. P. Kozloff, ed., Animals in Ancient Art from the Leo Mildenberg Collection, Cleveland, 1981, no. 2.
P. E. Mottahedeh (ed.), Out of Noah’s Ark, Animals in Ancient Art from the Leo Mildenberg Collection, Bible Lands Museum, Jerusalem, 1997, no. 91.
Note: This Sumerian leopard with a ‘beauty spot’ (the remains of an ‘Egyptian blue’ inlay) on his cheek was affectionately named “Omar” by Mildenberg after the film star, Omar Sharif.
Only the upper section of the leopard is preserved, finely carved in the round in the heraldic rampant pose. While the body is shown in profile, the head is turned towards the viewer, snarling.
The mottling of the fur is rendered with a series of drilled holes, once inlaid with Egyptian blue (of which only one survives). The use of this typically Egyptian pigment is documented in Egypt from the Predynastic period, while contemporaneous similar-looking blue stones in Mesopotamia have been traditionally described as lapis lazuli. This single surviving inlay then represents one of the earliest appearances of Egyptian blue in the region.
According to Kozloff, the animal represented might be the Arabian leopard, now critically endangered and once found throughout the Arabian peninsula and the Sinai.
The use of coloured inlays to add detail to sculptures is well documented in Sumerian art. For a finely carved limestone bull showing drilled holes for now-lost inlays and also dated to the Jemdet Nasr Period, cf. Sumer. Assur. Babylone. Catalogue of the exhibition at the Musée du Petit Palais, 24 March – 14 June 1981, Paris, 1980, p. 38, no. 41.
The big cat was prowling Aarey Colony, a neighborhood on the outskirts of the city, when it tripped Nayan Khanolkar’s camera. The cat looks almost as surprised as Khanolkhar was. â€œWhen I saw a picture of the leopard with a look of inquiry in the direction of the camera, I realized it was special,â€ he says.
Khanolkar, a native of Mumbai [He means “Bombay”], began photographing urban leopards after one of the big cats killed a seven-year-old in 2013. He started in Aarey Colony, which sits at the edge of Sanjay Gandhi National Park — which covers 40 square miles and hosts more than 1,000 species, including leopards. It isnâ€™t unusual for them to explore adjacent neighborhoods.
Still, the animals are sly and surreptitious, and difficult to photograph. Khanolkar started his hunt by identifying several locations where leopards often pass through Aarey Colony. For this photo, he set up an infrared motion sensor in an alley, attached a Nikon D700 to a nearby building, and positioned three strobes at various points throughout the area. Khanolkar visited the spot every few days to check his trap. After four months of waiting, he captured a stunning leopard creeping through the scene.
A young male leopard injured six people as it eluded capture for 12 hours after it ventured into the grounds of an elite school in the Indian city of Bangalore. …
The leopard was first spotted strolling around the thankfully empty corridors of the Vibgyor International School on surveillance video by security guards. The CCTV footage later showed it had entered the grounds at about 4am.
As crowds gathered to watch the animal prowling around the school premises, forest department personnel arrived on the scene equipped with dart guns and tranquillisers.
But the animal then went into hiding and remained out of sight for several hours before it was spotted outside the school in nearby bush.
As locals descended on the scene, the animal darted back inside the school where the near fatal case of hide-and-seek intensified.
With officials closing in on its hiding place in a classroom, the big cat made a run for it and raced towards the swimming pool, sending people dashing for cover.
It lunged at one man who managed to ward it off. But it then took Sanjay Gubbi, a wildlife expert, by surprise as it raced towards him.
Mr Gubbi tried to scale a compound wall, but the animal caught him and dragged him to the ground, mauling him next to the pool as he fought it off.
It was after this encounter that one of the forestry team finally managed to shoot it with a tranquilliser.The animal retreated towards a bathroom where it finally collapsed.
“It was a long struggle to capture the leopard,â€ senior police official S Boralingaiah told reporters. â€œAlthough it was injected with tranquilisers it could be captured only around 8.15pm local time when the medication took full effect.â€
The leopard, which is thought to have ventured from a nearby forest, has now been moved to a national park. The six injured people were treated for minor injuries.
In Zimbabwe, yet another P[rofessional] H[unter] has been attacked by wild game in the field. This time a leopard mauled PH Chap Esterhuizen of Martin Pieters Safaris in the Omay North Campfire Area. Esterhuizen and Pieters were guiding subscriber Aaron Baker and his brother Mike while filming an episode of the television show, Hunting with the Pros. Seems Baker’s brother wounded a leopard late on the evening of August 24 . After searching for a while, the PHs decided they should return in the morning when they would have plenty of light. The next day they jumped the leopard not 20 yards from where they had quit searching the night before.
The cat ran 100 yards and took cover in thick grass, where the group tried to flush him by throwing rocks. The leopard finally came out silently, low and fast. The group of hunters shot five times as it came, connecting with a load of buckshot and a round of .458 that hit squarely, breaking the cat’s left shoulder. The cat spun and launched itself at Esterhuizen, covering 12 yards in two leaps on three legs. Although Esterhuizen tried to feed the animal his rifle, the leopard hit him full on in the chest, biting him and knocking him over. Esterhuizen momentarily pushed off the cat, which then locked onto his left wrist. After three kicks, he got the cat off of his chest, but it remained clamped on his arm. At this point Baker’s brother got a clear shot and killed the leopard less than five feet from where the attack had begun.
Esterhuizen was flown out by private plane to a hospital in Bulawayo. Both of his calves were lacerated and he had four puncture wounds in the chest and multiple bites to his left arm. Luckily, he is expected to make a quick recovery. The leopard weighed in at 160 pounds.
When wounded, a leopard has a particularly good chance of avenging himself on the hunter obligated to follow him up. Leopards are not enormously large. They have excellent natural camouflage, and they can charge very fast. When he arrives in the hunter’s lap, the aggrieved leopard will be found to constitute a solid mass of muscle operating razor-sharp teeth and claws. His habit of dining on carrion also assures that the leopard’s edged weapons will be carrying a motherload of highly infectious bacteria.
Apparently, this unlucky professional hunter recovered. The leopard, of course, did not, but he certainly got his licks in. That was a nice charge. No hesitation at all. He managed to inflict a very impressive of damage in the short amount of time he had. I wondered how it would have come out, had there been fewer staff involved. I would guess, followed up by a single human, this leopard would have won.
Don’t feel too sorry for the leopard, viewers. He was a hunter himself and took just as much pleasure in the stalk and the kill. In the end, we all have to go, and this leopard went out bravely, leaving major marks on his enemy, and in hot blood. I’d say that was a pretty good way to go, assuming one doesn’t actually get to win.