The Mildenberg ‘Bull and Dog’ Coptic Tile
Circa 5th-7th Century AD
Important Coptic molded tile with animal motif known as the Mildenberg “Bull and Dog Tile” and published in color in Mildenberg’s landmark 4-volume book series of animals in ancient art.
The decorative square terracotta tile features two spiral columns framing a striding bull and dog inverted to each other. Both animals are depicted in profile with short incised strokes indicating fur. The bull stands with head turned to look behind him with one eye looking at the viewer. He has short lunate horns atop his head and small perked ears. His short legs are bent in motion as if prancing and his long tail is curled upwards in the air. The dog has a jackal-like appearance as he appears to be walking with head facing forward. He has a long muzzle, one almond-shaped eye and two pointed erect ears. Individual claws are indicated on the paws and he has a short curled tail.
The brick is framed by a thin raised border. Interestingly, between one edge and column is a ligature in relief of the Greek letters Alpha and Iota. Across the central relief are traces of red and black slip while a creamy beige slip covers the majority of the tile. On the back of the tile a large ‘X’ is impressed into the clay from corner-to-corner seemingly created by the craftsman’s fingers. Orange-brown clay.
Diameter: 7.7 in x 7.7 in. (19.6 cm x 19.5 cm)
Provenance: Formerly in the collection of legendary Swiss collector Leo Mildenberg.
This object has been published as #87in A Peaceable Kingdom, Animals in Ancient Art from the the Leo Mildenberg Collection, Part VI (Mainz am Rhein 2004) by J. Biers.