Cauldron Gryphon. Photo courtesy of FBI National Stolen Art File.

Cauldron Gryphon. Photo courtesy of FBI National Stolen Art File.

This week, we’re featuring a griffon — or in this case, a “gryphon” — head that used to adorn a cauldron and is currently in the FBI’s National Stolen Art File.

There are few details in the public entry on the FBI’s Web page, but it is described as made of metal with the dimensions of 18 cm by 8.4 cm. No origin or time period is given, and there is no information on the location, date or circumstances of the theft.

Here’s what the file says:

Archaic metal gryphon head possible from a cauldron used for decoration. Open mouth with clear opening. Framed bulging almost shaped eyes. Raised ears with tips broken. Raised section in the middle of forehead is broken. Swollen in area where neck meets head. Neck gradually enlarges as it goes downward. Whole object scaled and hollow.

With a little bit of research, we found a number of similar examples, usually made of cast bronze from 7th Century Greece. The griffin heads decorated the rim of cauldrons in temples. More than 600 survived, many found in temple of Zeus at Olympia and the Heraion (temple of Hera, who was Zeus’s sister/wife (yep, that’s Greek mythology for you)) on the island of Samos.

For more information and to report recovered objects in the NSAF, contact: National Stolen Art File Art Theft Program, Room 3247 Federal Bureau of Investigation 935 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, DC 20535 Tel: (202) 324-6668