Stamp seal

Ellipsoid shaped stamp seal with a male bust motif. The male figure displays a pointed beard and a diadem. A pahlavi inscription runs from 8 o’clock to 4 o’clock.

Historical period(s)
Sasanian period, 224 - 651
Medium
Carnelian
Dimensions
H x W: 2.4 x 1.3 cm (15/16 x 1/2 in)
Geography
Iran
Credit Line
Gift of the Duncan M. Whittome Revocable Trust in memory of Ambassador and Mrs. James S. Moose, Jr.
Accession Number
F1993.18.20
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Tool and Equipment
Type

Seal

Keywords
ellipsoid-shaped seal, Iran, man, robe, Sasanian Pahlavi script, Sasanian period (ca. 224 - 651), stamp seal, WWII-era provenance
Provenance

From 1930s
Mr. and Mrs. James S. Moose, Jr., purchased in Iran in the 1930s. [1]

Duncan M. Whittome, by gift or inheritance from her parents, Mr. and Mrs. James S. Moose, Jr. [2]

To 1993
Duncan M. Whittome, Revocable Trust. [3]

From 1993
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Duncan M. Whittome, Revocable Trust. [4]

Notes:

[1] Purchased in Iran by the parents of Duncan Whittome, Mr. and Mrs. James S. Moose, Jr., while in the Foreign Service during the 1930s.

[2] See note 1.

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

[4] See note 3.

Previous Owner(s)

Duncan M. Whittome
Duncan M. Whittome, Revocable Trust
Ambassador and Mrs. James S. Moose Jr.

Description

Ellipsoid shaped stamp seal with a male bust motif. The male figure displays a pointed beard and a diadem. A pahlavi inscription runs from 8 o'clock to 4 o'clock.

Inscription(s)

Pahlavi inscription in field above head.

Label

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.

Collection Area(s)
Ancient Near Eastern Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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