• Dish with the Depiction of a Ruler Hunting

    Technique:
    traces of gilding
    Dimensions:
    diameter 21,7 cm

Dish with the Depiction of a Ruler Hunting

Iran, 4th century

The ruler hunting is the commonest subject in Sassanis toreutics. By gaining a victory over wild beasts, a monarch demonstrated his might and power over the world around him. This is a motif very familiar in the Middle East from the 4th millennium BC onwards. In Sassanid art, victory over predators would also seem to have had a religious significance since many animals were zoomorphic embodiments of deities from the pantheon of Zoroastrianism, the state religion. In hunting scenes, the Sassanid king was most often depicted on horseback, but he could also be shown on foot, as on this dish where he is fighting with a rearing predator that has spots, possibly a leopard. The king has grabbed the animal by its neck with his left hand as he stabs it with his right. This motif of single combat between the monarch and the king of the beasts (a lion being more usual than a leopard), in which the monarch of course emerged victorious, also has deep roots in the art of the ancient Middle East. The positioning of the man’s figure is not entirely natural: his head and upper torso are presented in a three-quarter view, while his lower body is shown full on. Sassanid metal workers devoted tremendous attention to the depiction of minor details, the king’s clothing, adornments and weapons. Here the king is wearing the usual Sassanid outfit of wide pleated trousers and a caftan. He has soft boots decorated with straps and something like a buckle. An empty scabbard hangs from one hip, a sheathed dagger from the other. The Sassanid rulers’ clothing typically had a host of decorative elements, especially sumptuous fluttering ribbons that formed a cloud around them as they appeared before their subjects. Despite him being engaged in a life-and-death struggle, the king’s face is calm, majestic and handsome, his movements smooth. Judging by the shape of the crown, this is a portrayal of Shapur III.

Title:

Dish with the Depiction of a Ruler Hunting

Place of creation:

Date:

Material:

Technique:

traces of gilding

Dimensions:

diameter 21,7 cm

Inventory Number:

S-42

Category:

Collection: