c. AD 400–600
Stucco (gypsum plaster) with traces of paint
Overall: 30.8 cm (12 1/8 in.)
Gift of Heeramaneck Galleries 1941.24
From about AD 224 until about 650, the Sasanian kings ruled a rich and powerful empire that stretched from Iran and Iraq to Afghanistan and Georgia (Russia). The Sasanians, named for Sasan, their first king, controlled parts of the lucrative Silk Route, and with their accrued wealth they built great palaces furnished with luxurious silks and lavish vessels made of silver mined in their own territories. The Sasanians were Zoroastrians—worshippers of Ahuramazda, the spirit of Good, who was in constant struggle with Evil. On some of the works of art shown here, the hunting scenes or the scenes of combat between two species of animal or between man and animal reflect Zoroastrian beliefs. On other works, scenes of wine-drinking, dancing, and other forms of revelry are similar to favorite decorations on Greek and Roman vases in pottery and precious metal. The Sasanians, who ruled the major trading routes through Central Asia, decorated their palace architecture with painted stucco. A favorite motif of many ancient Near East Cultures depicted goats standing on their hind legs to eat leaves or berries from the "Tree of Life."
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