Ewer decorated with female figures

The pear-shaped body of the ewer is separated from the cylindrical neck and tall foot by beaded moldings. A scale pattern frames the body of the ewer, above and below. The handle, topped by a ball, is attached at the upper part of the body and at the widest part of the body. It terminates at both ends in the head of an onager. The handle reaches to the top of the vessel, and the ball atop the handle rises to the level of the spout which has a fitted lid. The lid, ball on the handle, ends of the handles, surface of the body, and band above and below the beaded moldings are gilded. Across the outer edge of the foot is a dotted inscription. The body is decorated with two identical pairs of dancing female figures. Two figures wearing a transparent costume and holding castanets alternate with heavily draped figures holding torches. All four figures have a similar hairstyle: combed forward from the crown, held in place with a hairband or tiara, with a row of four waves on either side of the head.

Historical period(s)
Sasanian period, 6th-7th century
Medium
Silver and gilt
Dimensions
H x W x D (overall): 35.5 x 16.9 x 14 cm (14 x 6 5/8 x 5 1/2 in)
Geography
Iran
Credit Line
Gift of Arthur M. Sackler
Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
S1987.117
On View Location
Sackler Gallery 21: Feast Your Eyes: A Taste for Luxury in Ancient Iran
Classification(s)
Metalwork, Vessel
Type

Ewer

Keywords
chasing, dance, gilding, hammering, Iran, repousse, Sasanian period (ca. 224 - 651), woman, WWII-era provenance
Provenance
Provenance research underway.
Description

The pear-shaped body of the ewer is separated from the cylindrical neck and tall foot by beaded moldings. A scale pattern frames the body of the ewer, above and below. The handle, topped by a ball, is attached at the upper part of the body and at the widest part of the body. It terminates at both ends in the head of an onager. The handle reaches to the top of the vessel, and the ball atop the handle rises to the level of the spout which has a fitted lid. The lid, ball on the handle, ends of the handles, surface of the body, and band above and below the beaded moldings are gilded. Across the outer edge of the foot is a dotted inscription. The body is decorated with two identical pairs of dancing female figures. Two figures wearing a transparent costume and holding castanets alternate with heavily draped figures holding torches. All four figures have a similar hairstyle: combed forward from the crown, held in place with a hairband or tiara, with a row of four waves on either side of the head.

Inscription(s)

1. (Ann Gunter, 17 October 1995) A Middle Persian inscription on the outer edge of the foot reads: hwslwb Y b'pk', "Khusro, Son of Babak," followed by the weight of the vessel. This reading and translation was provided by Phillipe Gignoux, Paris.

Label

Among the silver vessels made in Iran during the sixth and seventh centuries were pear-shaped vases and pouring vessels, or ewers, closely related in form and elaborate gilded decoration. The examples displayed here share the theme of females holding symbolic objects. The figures were modeled in part after Roman personifications of the Seasons and Months, and representations of female attendants in the cult of Dionysos, the Greek god of wine and ecstatic experience.

Published References
  • Massoume Price. Ancient Iran. Culture of Iran Youth Series, 1st ed. .
  • Ann C. Gunter. The Art of Eating and Drinking in Ancient Iran. vol. 1, no. 2 New York. pp. 6, 48.
  • Art Gallery of New South Wales. Silk Road Saga: The Sarcophagus of Yu Hong. p. 17.
  • Ideals of Beauty: Asian and American Art in the Freer and Sackler Galleries. Thames and Hudson World of Art London and Washington, 2010. pp. 45-46.
  • 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. 35, pp. 45, 194-7.
  • et al. Asian Art in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery: The Inaugural Gift. Washington, 1987. cat. 23a, p. 52.
  • Near Eastern Studies: Dedicated to H.I.H. Prince Takahito Mikasa on the Ocassion of His Seventy-Fifth Birthday. Bulletin of the Middle Eastern Culture Center in Japan Wiesbaden. cat. 3, pp. 67-84.
Collection Area(s)
Ancient Near Eastern Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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