Gilded silver vase

Late Sasanian, 6th century AD
From Mazanderan, northern Iran

Vineyard scenes on a wine strainer

This beautiful vase is typical of the extraordinary skill of Sasanian silversmiths. The silver is gilded, and has embossed and traced decoration. The base is pierced like a strainer, and the vessel was presumably for wine. It bears images of grapevines and of two naked boys, one cutting a branch, the other carrying a basket of grapes. Birds and foxes sit amongst the vines

The Sasanian empire fell in AD 642 to the attacks of the Muslim Arabs. The artists and craftsmen, however, put themselves at the disposal of the new rulers and the needs of the new religion, and it was through them that traditional Persian ornament came to have a profound influence on Islamic art. It is often difficult to determine whether a vessel is of Sasanian or early Islamic date since techniques, shapes and decoration underwent little change.

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More information


J.P.C. Kent and K.S. Painter (eds.), Wealth of the Roman world, AD (London, The British Museum Press, 1977)

P.O. Harper, 'Sasanian silver vessels: the formation and study of early museum collections' in Mesopotamia and Iran in the -2 (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)

J. Curtis, Ancient Persia-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)

D. Collon, Ancient Near Eastern art (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)

B. Overlaet, Splendeur des Sassanides: Lemp (Brussels, 1993)


Weight: 592.400 gm
Height: 18.500 cm
Diameter: 10.700 cm
Capacity: 0.740 litres

Museum number

ME 124094


Bequeathed by Sir A.W. Franks


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