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Sunday, February 7, 2021

Sasanian royal gifts of silver

Sasanian silver plates were usually hammered into shape and then decorated using a variety of complex techniques.  Gilding was often used to highlight the hunter, usually the king, and sometimes extra pieces of metal were added to create high relief.

The king as hunter became a standard image on silver plates during the reign of Shapur II (r. 310–379 CE). The motif symbolizes the prowess of Sasanian rulers, and these royal plates were often sent as gifts to neighboring and vassal courts.  Some plates included inscriptions with the king's name and the plate's weight.  With other plates, art historians must attempt to identify the king by his distinctive apparel or shape of the crown he wears.  Each Sasanian king wore a different personal crown, which became more and more elaborate during the four centuries of the dynasty. Fortunately, the different crowns have been identified from coins or sometimes compared with existing rock reliefs with inscriptions such as those at Ṭāq-e Bostān or Naqš-e Rostam, Iran.

"In a few cases identification by crown can be reinforced by the presence of contemporary inscriptions. The best instance of this – and a very important example - is the Investiture of Ardašir I at Naqš-e Rostam. This magnificent relief shows two mounted horsemen, one handing the ribboned diadem or symbol of kingship to the other, and both with defeated enemies lying dead beside them. The left hand figure is wearing the skull-cap surmounted by korymbos, the final version of his personal crown developed by Ardašir (224-241 CE), seen on both his gold and silver coins. The figure on the right wears the mural crown, his hair arranged in a top-knot as well as falling in luxuriant curls to his shoulders." - iranicaonline.org 


King Hunting Plate, Sasanian period 4th-5th century CE silver and gilt courtesy of Wikimedia Commons contributor Daderot

Closeup of a Plate depicting a boar hunt Persia (Iran) Sasanian Period 4th century CE Silver and Gilt that I photographed at the Smithsonian's Sackler Gallery of Asian Art in Washington D.C.

Plate depicting a boar hunt Persia (Iran) Sasanian Period 4th century CE Silver and Gilt that I photographed at the Smithsonian's Sackler Gallery of Asian Art in Washington D.C.

Silver and gilt plate depicting winged horses Persian Sasanian Period 7th century CE that I photographed at the Smithsonian's Sackler Gallery of Asian Art in Washington D.C.

Sasanian Silver and Gilt Plate depicting a royal hunt Persia 7th century CE that I photographed at the Smithsonian's Sackler Gallery of Asian Art in Washington D.C.

Sasanian Silver plate with Shapur killing a deer, 4th century CE courtesy of Wikimedia Commons contributor Sailko.

Hunting scene depicting King Chosroes II. 7th century CE Sassanid, Cabinet des Medailles, Paris courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The scene on this example is striking: the king is depicted standing and slaying a rearing stag, whose protruding tongue indicates that he is either dying or already dead. The king is identifiable as Yazdgard I (r. 399-420) due to his crown, although it is topped with a striated globe rather than the cloth-covered one with which he is normally represented. His beaded skirt resembles those shown on the rock reliefs of Shapur II (r. 310-379), Shapur III (r. 383-388) and Ardashir II (r. 379-383) at Taq-i Bustan, Iran. The crescent-tipped spear with a counterweight in the form of a human fist is unique amongst weapons represented on Sasanian silver plates. Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Sivler Plate of Peroz I hunting argali, Sasanian, courtesy of the Hermitage Museum and Wikimedia Commons

King Hunting Plate, 303-309 CE, Sasanian, Iran, silver and gilt courtesy of the Cleveland Museum of Art


Hunting with a bowl Sasanian Great King; Iran; 7 Century, Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin (Pergamon Museum) courtesy of Wikimedia Commons contributor Anagoria

Sasanian Silver and Gilt Plate portraying a royal ibex hunt Persia 7th century CE that I photographed at the Smithsonian's Sackler Gallery of Asian Art in Washington D.C.


 

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