Historical period(s)
Sasanian period, Reign of Shapur II, 4th century
Silver and gilt
H x Diam: 5 x 24 cm (1 15/16 x 9 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


boar, chasing, gilding, hammering, horse, hunting, Iran, portrait, repousse, Sasanian period (ca. 224 - 651), WWII-era provenance
Provenance research underway.

One of the earliest and most enduring of the royal images created during the Sasanian period (ca. 224-651) shows the king on horseback hunting select quarry: boar, lion, antelope (or gazelle). This image, often embellished with gilding, was depicted on the interior of silver plates, about thirty of which have been found in Iran and neighboring countries. Produced in imperial workshops, these plates were given as official gifts from the king to high-ranking individuals within or beyond the empire's frontiers. In the early centuries of Sasanian rule, silver production was controlled by a royal monopoly and could be minted into coins or fashioned into objects only on the king's authority.

Although the royal figures on the plates are not labeled, they can sometimes be identified by their crowns, which are sometimes also shown on coin portraits of individual Sasanian kings. The figure on this plate is generally identified as Shapur II (reigned 309-79).

Published References
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  • Ludolf Stephani, Grigori Stroganoff. Die Schlangen-Futterung der Orphischen Mysterien. St. Petersburg. cat. 9, p. 5.
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  • 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. 13, pp. 36.
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  • Ernst Herzfeld. Am tor von Asien: Felsdenkmale aus Irans heldenzeit. Berlin. p. 70.
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  • Dorothy Shepherd Payer. Sasanian Art in Cleveland. vol. 51, no. 4 Cleveland, April 1964. pp. 76-77, 79, fig. 15b.
  • W. Thomas Chase. The Technical Examination of Two Sasanian Silver Plates. vol. 7 Washington and Ann Arbor. pp. 78-85, figs. 1-20.
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  • Ernst Herzfeld. Khusrau Parwez und der Taq-i-Vastan. vol. 9, no. 2 Berlin, June 1938. p. 129ff.
  • Richard Ettinghausen. The Arts of Iran at the Time of Avicenna: Société iranienne pour la conservation des monuments nationaux. vol. 4, Tehran. pp. 132-138, fig. 1.
  • Jahan Reinhold Aspelin. Antiquites du Nord Finno-Ougrien. 5 vols., Helsingfors. p. 142, fig. 61o.
  • 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. 147-153.
  • Mark Norell, Denise Patry Leidy. Traveling the Silk Road. p. 170 bottom.
  • Fukai Shinji. Perusha kobijutsu kenkyu: garasuki kinki. Tokyo. p. 181, fig. 122.
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  • Jahan Reinhold Aspelin. De la civilization prehistorique des peuples permiens et de leur commerce avec L'Orient: Notice archeologique
    Notice arche´ologique.
    Notice archeologique
    . Leiden. p. 408, no. 14c.
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Collection Area(s)
Ancient Near Eastern Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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