Historical period(s)
Sasanian period, 7th century
H x W x D: 3.9 x 26.1 x 26.1 cm (1 9/16 x 10 1/4 x 10 1/4 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


carving, engraving, hammering, Iran, lion, mythological animal, Sasanian period (ca. 224 - 651), WWII-era provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable

Mythical creatures composed of the parts of different creatures, such as this winged beast, have a long history in the art and thought of the ancient Near East.  Sometimes these creatures played a positive role in the human world as protective or guardian spirits.  Evil forces could also take various beastly forms, including demons, monsters, serpents, and dragons. 
Zoroastrian texts mention mythical creatures with supernatural powers, such as the  <u>senmurv,<e> a combination of bird and dog or lion.  Winged animals (especially horses) and the <u>senmurv<e> are depicted in Sasanian art in a variety of media, including architectural stucco decoration, silver plates, patterned textiles, and engraved sealstones.  In this example, the creature's pose is perfectly adapted to the circular field of the plate.

Published References
  • Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis. Persian Myths. The Legendary Past Austin and London. pp. 21-23.
  • 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. 22, pp. 145-47.
Collection Area(s)
Ancient Near Eastern Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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