- Museum number
Pale 'smoky' grey chalcedony cylinder seal: crowned (?) figure (royal hero or king) in combat with confronting monster, and ancillary symbols. The personage stands facing right with torso presented frontally, his beard is marked by fine diagonal striations across the cheek and vertically to a square tip, and his hair is in a plain page-boy style; damage to seal has erased part of the headgear, but it would seem to have been a 'dentate' crown as a narrow circlet remains; his face is strongly modelled with drill-holes for the eye and nostril, he wears the Persian robe and carries a quiver over his shoulder (the arrows are not obvious); he aims his bow, which has curved extremities marked by drill-holes, at a rampant, winged, snarling leo-gryph. The creature raises its forelegs; drill-holes emphasize the backward-curving horns, the eye, muzzle, paws, talons, and the tips of its bifurcated tail, its mane appears as bristles along the neck crest, its neck, rib and haunch muscles are indicated by diagonal and curved lines, the wing sweeps back to fully curled tips with a broad upper ridge and a finer lower one from which the feathers are singled out. Between the constestants is the encircled bust with the lower edge forming a crescent; the bust (of a god or king?) is in full profile facing the personage and is similarly bearded, but his hair is in a bun and he wears a finely 'spiked' crown; the pendant sleeves of his Persian robe are decorated with a vertical band of dots, he carries in one hand a lotus-type plant indicated by three drill-holes and raises the other hand, palm open. Above hovers the winged disc (upper section damaged), with short wings ending in slightly splayed tips, from which the feathers are singled out, a tail with double central ridges from which the tail feathers flare and, on either side of the tail, two scroll-like appendages with ends indicated by drill-holes. There is a ground line under the scene; worn and chipped along the edges, obliterating parts of the engraving.
Diameter: 0.30 centimetres (perforation)
Diameter: 1.10 centimetres
Height: 2.20 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Forgotten Empire catalogue entry
202 Cylinder seal in pale grey chalcedony showing the Persian royal hero
The royal hero (headdress damaged by a chip) aims an arrow at a rampant, winged lion-griffin that raises its forepaws. Between the figures is a winged disc (chipped) above an oval formed by the crescent moon, in which is the bust of a crowned bearded figure in a decorated Persian robe. He faces the royal hero and holds a flower in his left hand, with the other hand raised. Base-line [?].
Acquired from H.O. Cureton in 1849, who purchased it at the sale of the J.R. Steuart Collection at Sotheby’s
H 2.2 cm, Diam 1.2 cm
British Museum, ANE 89422
Merrillees 2005: no. 59
Cf. C H Gordon, 'Western Asiatic seals in the Walters Art Gallery', London BSAI 1939, 107.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2013-14 24 Oct-27 April, BM, G69a, 'Wise men from the East: Zoroastrian traditions in Persia and beyond'
2012 Jan-Apr, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Fantastic Creatures
2011 Jun-Sept, South Korea, Ulsan Museum, Fantastic Creatures.
2006 7 Mar-11 Jun, Barcelona, Fundacion La Caixa, 'L'imperi Oblidat'
2005-2006 Sept-Jan, London, BM, 'Forgotten Empire'
Case 8 L, 6th row
Room of Writing, Seals 11
- Fair; worn and chipped along the edges.
- Acquisition date
- 1849 (22nd June)
- Acquisition notes
- John Robert Steuart sale, 22 June 1849 from or of Mr Cureton (Sotheby's, lot 120).
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number