Bottle with repousse relief of four nude female figures (two musicians and two dancers) each with a child. Hammered, chased, and gilded.

… Read More

Historical period(s)
Sasanian period, 6th-7th century
Silver and gilt; hammered, repousse, chased, gilded
H x Diam: 19.4 × 11.2 cm (7 5/8 × 4 7/16 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


child, dance, Iran, music, Sasanian period (ca. 224 - 651), woman

To 1966
Marguerite Mallon, Rome, Italy. [1]

From 1966
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Marguerite Mallon, Rome, Italy. [2]


[1] See correspondences between Marguerite Mallon and the Director of the Freer Gallery of Art, John Pope, copies in the object file. See also Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List after 1920 file, Collections Management Office.

[2] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Marguerite Mallon died 1977


Bottle with repousse relief of four nude female figures (two musicians and two dancers) each with a child. Hammered, chased, and gilded.


Inscription in Middle Persian states owner's name as "Panaveh" and weight as 37 ster, 3 drahm.


This vase is one of a group of Sasanian silver and gilt vessels decorated with figures of dancing females, who often hold or play musical instruments (see S1987.117 and S1987.118).  Some of the figures are given halos and hairstyles with topknots, which distinguish them as royal or divine.  An inscription on the rim of this vase records the weight of the vessel and the name of its owner; this information was probably used in ancient times to register the vessel for taxation purposes. Closely related examples are today in the Louvre, Paris and in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Published References
  • Massoume Price. Ancient Iran. Culture of Iran Youth Series, 1st ed. .
  • Jean-Louis Huot. Persia: From the Origins to the Achaemenids. Cleveland. fig. 140.
  • Richard N. Frye. Sasanian Numbers and Silver Weights. cat. 12.
  • Dr. Esin Atil. Exhibition of 2500 Years of Persian Art. Exh. cat. Washington, 1971. cat. 40.
  • 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. 4-10, pl. 3, fig. 8.
  • Art Gallery of New South Wales. Silk Road Saga: The Sarcophagus of Yu Hong. p. 17.
  • Philippe Gignoux. Elements de prosopographic II: Les possesseurs de coupes sasanides. vol. 13, no. 1 Paris. cat. 20, pp. 30-31.
  • Richard Ettinghausen. A Persian Treasure. no. 8, Fall-Winter 1967-1968. pp. 31-34.
  • Christopher J. Brunner. Middle Persian Inscriptions on Sasanian Silverware. vol. 9. p. 114, fig. 6.
  • 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.
  • Mountains and Lowlands: Essays in the Archaeology of Greater Mesopotamia. Bibliotheca Mesopotamica, no. 7 Malibu, CA. cat. 105, p. 179.
  • 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. 34, pp. 224-26.
  • Islamic Art and Archaeology: Collected Papers. Berlin. p. 303.
  • Roman Ghirshman. Rich Treasures of Persian Animal Art Recently Discovered, Gold, Silver, and Bronze: Master Works of Ancient Iranian Artists. 236, no. 6296, April 2, 1960. p. 550.
  • Daniel T. Potts, Kate Masia-Redford. Oxford Handbook of Ancient Iran. Oxford handbooks Oxford, New York. p. 931, fig. 48.3.
Collection Area(s)
Ancient Near Eastern Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.