Bowl, shallow, silver on low ring foot, with a Bacchanalian triumphal scene in flat relief against a gilded background. Chased, engraved, and gilded.

Historical period(s)
Sasanian period, 5th-7th century
Silver and gilt
H x Diam (overall): 4.5 × 22.1 cm (1 3/4 × 8 11/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Sackler Gallery 21: Feast Your Eyes: A Taste for Luxury in Ancient Iran
Metalwork, Vessel


Iran, Sasanian period (ca. 224 - 651)

To 1964
Mahboubian Gallery of Ancient Art, Tehran, Iran and New York. [1]

From 1964
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Mahboubian Gallery of Ancient Art, Tehran, Iran and New York. [2]


[1] Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List file after 1920, Collections Management Office.

[2] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Mahboubian Gallery of Ancient Art


Bowl, shallow, silver on low ring foot, with a Bacchanalian triumphal scene in flat relief against a gilded background. Chased, engraved, and gilded.


This complex scene, which decorates the interior of a shallow plate, testifies to the lively cultural interaction that took place between the eastern Mediterranean and Central Asia in the first millennium. In the center, the Greek god Dionysos (depicted here with female-like breasts) sits nexts to the princess Ariadne; to the right stands the hero Herakles. The plate depicts the triumphal arrival of the Greek god Dionysos in India.  A popular subject of Roman imperial art, it was later depicted over a wide area of the Byzantine Empire in textiles, gemstones, and metalwork, and transferred through such portable media to neighboring Sasanian Iran.

Published References
  • Arts of the Hellenized East: Orecious Metalwork and Gems of the Pre-Islamic Era. .
  • Massoume Price. Ancient Iran. Culture of Iran Youth Series, 1st ed. .
  • Dr. Esin Atil. Exhibition of 2500 Years of Persian Art. Exh. cat. Washington, 1971. cat. 48.
  • Richard Ettinghausen. From Byzantium to Sasanian Iran and the Islamic World: Three Modes of Artistic Influence. The L.A. Mayor Memorial Studies in Islamic Art and Archaeology Leiden. pp. 4-5.
  • Marvin C. Ross. Catalogue of the Byzantine and Early Mediaeval Antiquities in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection. Dumbarton Oaks Catalogues 3 vols. New York. cat. 6, pp. 5-7, pl. 6.
  • Along the Silk Road. p. 19, fig. 4.
  • Ann C. Gunter, Paul Jett. Ancient Iranian Metalwork in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington and Mainz, Germany, 1992. cat. 16, pp. 37, 121-127.
  • Richard Ettinghausen. A Persian Treasure. no. 8, Fall-Winter 1967-1968. p. 39, fig. 17.
  • Marcelle Duchesne-Guillemin. Les Instruments de Musique dans l'Art Sassanide. Iranica Antiqua Supplementum, no. 6 Ghent. pp. 62-64, figs. 14a-b.
  • Near Eastern Studies: Dedicated to H.I.H. Prince Takahito Mikasa on the Ocassion of His Seventy-Fifth Birthday. Bulletin of the Middle Eastern Culture Center in Japan Wiesbaden. cat. 11, p. 70.
  • W. Thomas Chase. The Technical Examination of Two Sasanian Plates. vol. 7 Washington and Ann Arbor. pp. 75-93, figs. 21-37.
  • W. Thomas Chase. The Technical Examination of Two Sasanian Silver Plates. vol. 7 Washington and Ann Arbor. pp. 85-93, figs. 21-37.
  • Prudence Oliver Harper. In Search of a Cultural Identity: Monuments and Artifacts of the Sasanian Near East, 3rd to 7th century A.D. New York. p. 89, fig. 56.
  • John Boardman. The Diffusion of Classical Art in Antiquity. The A.W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts London and Princeton. pp. 96-97, fig. 4.29.
  • Ecclesiastical Silver Plate in Sixth-Century Byzantium Vessels: Papers of the Symposium held May 16-18, 1986 at the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore and Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C. Washington. pp. 147-53.
  • Michael Vickers. Metrological Reflections: Attic, Hellenistic, Parthian and Sasanian Gold and Silver Plate. vol. 24, no. 2 Paris. pp. 163-85.
  • Prudence Oliver Harper. Reflections on the Whip in the Pre-Islamic Near East: Questions of Identification and Interpretation. vol. 11 Paris. pp. 182-183.
  • Jaś Elsner. The Art of the Roman Empire ad 100-450. Oxford History of Art, 2nd ed. Oxford, United Kingdom. p. 233, fig. 172.
  • Islamic Art and Archaeology: Collected Papers. Berlin. p. 311.
  • The Memorial Volume of the 5th International Congress of Iranian Art and Archaeology: Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, 11th-18th April 1968. 2 vols., Teheran. no. 33, p. 342.
  • Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae. 2 vols., Munich and Zurich, 1981-c1997. cat. 128, pp. 526-7.
  • Daniel T. Potts, Kate Masia-Redford. Oxford Handbook of Ancient Iran. Oxford handbooks Oxford, New York. pp. 920-942.
Collection Area(s)
Ancient Near Eastern Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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