Hemispherical bowl

Historical period(s)
Sasanian period or later, 7th-8th century
Silver and gilt
H x W x D: 5.7 x 14.3 x 14.3 cm (2 1/4 x 5 5/8 x 5 5/8 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Arthur M. Sackler
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Sackler Gallery 21: Feast Your Eyes: A Taste for Luxury in Ancient Iran
Metalwork, Vessel


backgammon, flower, Iran, man, music, playing, Sasanian period (ca. 224 - 651), woman
Provenance research underway.

The exterior of this bowl, made in Iran or Central Asia toward the end of the Sasanian period (ca. 224–651) or in the following century, depicts scenes from the life of the nobility. In the center is a male figure holding a flower; arranged around this central medallion are a related group of scenes of human figures.  In one scene, a man and woman grasp a wreath, a ritual that seems to signify the ceremonial observation of a marriage contract. The other scenes probably depict events that accompanied the celebration: a servant approaching the couple; a wrestling match; two people playing a board game; and musicians playing harp and drum. The couple and the servant are depicted with a variety of sumptuous vessels similar to actual examples made of silver and gilt that have been recovered from burials and hoards: bowls on tall bases, ewers, and an animal-shaped drinking vessel.

Published References
  • Massoume Price. Ancient Iran. Culture of Iran Youth Series, 1st ed. .
  • Ann C. Gunter. Art From Wisdom: The Invention of Chess and Backgammon. vol. IV, no. 1 New York. p. 13, fig. 4.
  • Francoise Demange. Glass, Gilding, and Grand Design: Art of Sasanian Iran (224-642). New York. cat. 70, pp. 15, 126-128.
  • Ann C. Gunter. The Art of Eating and Drinking in Ancient Iran. vol. 1, no. 2 New York. pp. 44-45, fig. 27.
  • Ann C. Gunter. Ancient Iranian Drinking Vessles. vol. 18, no. 9 Hong Kong, September 1987. p. 45, fig. 11.
  • et al. Asian Art in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery: The Inaugural Gift. Washington, 1987. cat. 25, p. 55.
  • Myriam Rosen-Ayalon. Themes of Sasanian Origin in Islamic Art. pp. 69-80.
  • Prudence Oliver Harper. The Royal Hunter: The Art of the Sasanian Empire. Exh. cat. New York. cat. 25, pp. 74-76.
  • Marcelle Duchesne-Guillemin. Les Instruments de Musique dans l'Art Sassanide. Iranica Antiqua Supplementum, no. 6 Ghent. pp. 79-81, fig. 23.
  • Asian Games: The Art of Contest. Exh. cat. New York. pp. 89-90.
  • Rachel Hassan. Court Amusements: Games, Sport, and Pleasure in Islamic Art. Exh. cat. Jerusalem. p. 95.
  • Splendeur des sassanides: L'Empire perse entre Rome et la Chine (224-642). Brussels. pp. 95-108, fig. 90.
  • Assadullah Souren Melikian-Chirvani. The Wine-Bull and the Magian Master. Cahier 11 Paris. pp. 101-34.
  • Banquets d'Orient. Res Orientales, vol. 4 Bures-sur-Yvette, France. pp. 103-7, fig. 1.
  • Francoise Demange. Les Perses sassanides: fastes d'un empire oublie (224 - 642). Paris. cat. 70, pp. 126-128.
  • 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.
  • 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. 25, pp. 161-65.
  • Michael Vickers. Metrological Reflections: Attic, Hellenistic, Parthian and Sasanian Gold and Silver Plate. vol. 24, no. 2 Paris. pp. 163-85.
  • Amy Heller. The Silver Jug of the Lhasa Jokhang: Some Observations on Silver Objects and Costumes from the Tibetan Empire (7th-9th Century). p. 215.
  • Animal-Shaped Vessels from the Ancient World: Feasting with Gods, Heroes, and Kings. Exh. cat. Cambridge, Massachusetts. pp. 328-329, fig. 7.22.
Collection Area(s)
Ancient Near Eastern Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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