Stamp seal

Ellipsoid seal engraved with a bearded male bust in right profile and inscription. The figure wears a pearl drop earring and a necklace.

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Historical period(s)
Sasanian period, 224-651
H x W x D (overall): 1.7 x 1 x 1.3 cm (11/16 x 3/8 x 1/2 in)
Credit Line
Anonymous gift
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Tool and Equipment


ellipsoid-shaped seal, head, Iran, man, Sasanian Pahlavi script, Sasanian period (ca. 224 - 651), stamp seal

From 1943-45 to 1980
Private collector, purchased in Iran. [1]

From 1980
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of a private collector. [2]


[1] According to the donor, object was purchased in Iran between 1943 and 1945. See note by the donor dated from November 24, 1980, copy in object folder, Collection Management Office.

[2] Object was donated in 1980 to the Freer Study Collection, and later transferred to the Permanent Collection in April 1993. See Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List after 1920 file, Collections Management Office.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Joseph M. Upton died 1981


Ellipsoid seal engraved with a bearded male bust in right profile and inscription. The figure wears a pearl drop earring and a necklace.


Pahlavi inscription.


Stamp seals of the Sasanian period, often with abbreviated inscriptions, can particularly help us to understand belief systems, aspects of economy and administration in the Middle East between the third and 7th centuries and later. Seals were owned by officials, priests, wealthy property owners, but sometimes also by people from lower strata of the society. The portrait of a bearded man is a popular motif in Sasanian seals. While plenty of male portrait busts are known from impressions on sealings or bullae excavated at sites like Takht-e Sulaiman and Qasr Abu Nasr in Iran, it is doubtful whether there is any real portrait character intended, even when names are preserved.

Published References
  • Antonietta Catanzariti. The Ancient Near East Seal Collection. Washington. .
Collection Area(s)
Ancient Near Eastern Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
The Ancient Near East Seal Collection
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