- Museum number
Decorated silver bowl; attached high flaring foot-ring with centering mark and rotation marks (?) on the underside; decoration consists of twenty-two hammered petal-shaped lobes or gadroons, chased on the reverse, with punched marks around the tips of the outer lobes on the interior, and a row of lightly hammered circular indentations, punched around the lower portions, immediately below the rim; engraved guilloche framing the flat central roundel or tondo on the interior, which is engraved with a scene consisting of a reclining bearded man with bushy hairstyle, belted tunic and long baggy sleeves, holding a 'kantharos' (two-handled drinking bowl) in his left hand while reclining with one elbow on a pile of cushions at one end of a low couch or bench-throne supported by animal-feet (intended to be lion's paw) legs; standing male figure on the right, holding an unidentified object; seated woman at the left, wearing long flowing dress or gown but with arms not depicted; presumed lathe-turning marks on the underside of the foot ring; object has been crushed flat and crudely restored prior to acquisition.
- Production date
- 2ndC-3rdC (stylistic dating of the figural design)
Diameter: 7.40 centimetres (foot ring)
Diameter: 21 centimetres
Height: 6.50 centimetres (minus foot ring)
Height: 9.50 centimetres
Weight: 562 grammes
- Curator's comments
- Date initially believed by Barnett to be late Achaemenid and ca 4thC-3rdC BC owing to the central omphalos and debased floral fluted decoration, but with the foot ring and engraved medallion added at a later date in the Parthian period (note dated October 1964). Correspondence on this bowl from P.O. Harper, 20/11/1984, suggesting a 2nd-3rd century date and querying whether the central roundel was separately made: in reply, the answer was uncertain but on balance that as the metal was thicker here, it had cracked around the centre, following the line of engraving. The bowl has been attributed late 2nd-early 3rd century AD date on the basis of parallels of the hairstyle and dress of the represented figures with sculptures from Palmyra (Gunter & Jett 1992, pp.80-82). These authors also draw attention to the very close typological parallel of the bowl form and radiating petal decoration on a silver bowl in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (inv. no. S1987.144). The central figure on the BM bowl has also been suggested to represent a king in V. Curtis (1993, 'Persian Myths', p. 27). A further, very close, formal parallel for the profile and lobed decoration is offered by a silver bowl (G.M. Aslanov, T.I. Golobkina and Sh. G. Sadykhzade, 'Catalogue: Gold and Silver Artefacts from Archaeological Excavations in [Soviet] Azerbaijan', Baku 1966: Tab. XIX: 2). However, the integrity of the engraved design may be questionable as the lion's paw foot of the couch is misunderstood, and the arms are not shown on the seated lady on the left, suggesting that the engraver misunderstood details and was confined by the size and shape of the space available.
Unpublished catalogue entry for Cernuschi exhibition
Silver bowl with banqueting couple
Said to be from Daylaman, Iran
Possibly late 2nd - early 3rd century
Distorted, H 9.5 (6.5 minus foot ring), D 21.00 cm, weight 562 g
Ghirshman 1961: 125, pl. LXXIX, no. 733B; Pinder-Wilson 1971: no. 69; Barnett & Curtis 1973: 127, pl. LVIIa; Harper 1987: 353-54, fig. 101; Gunter & Jett 1992: 80-82; Sarkhosh Curtis 1993: 27; Collon 1995: 197, fig. 163; Curtis 2000: 71, fig. 80; Sarkhosh Curtis 2001: 306, pl. XIVb; Dirven 2005: 62-63
London, The British Museum, ANE 134963 (1968-2-10,1)
Hammered silver bowl with attached high flaring foot ring measuring 7.4 cm. across; centering mark and possible turning marks on the underside of the foot ring. The decoration consists of twenty-two hammered petal-shaped lobes or gadroons, chased on the reverse and around the lower portions on the interior, with punched dots around the outer edges of the lobes on the interior, and a row of lightly hammered circular indentations immediately below the rim; the lobes radiate from a flat central roundel or tondo which is integral to the vessel and is crudely engraved around the edge with a guilloche border; in the centre, an engraved scene of a bearded man in three-quarter profile with a moustache, bushy hairstyle and tip of his beard indicated as being pulled through a beard ring, wearing a torque or round-necked tunic with long sleeves, belt and vertical embroidered panel down the front. He holds a decorated two-handled drinking bowl or kantharos by the base in his left hand while reclining with his left elbow on a pile of four or five cushions or bolsters at one end of a low couch with a decorated panel or throw at the front, and the right (viewed) end supported by a short leg terminating in a crude lion's paw; the opposite end is not represented. Seated at the left is a long haired woman in three-quarter profile facing the central figure, wearing a long flowing dress or gown. A third, smaller, figure stands at the right, looking up at the central figure in three-quarter profile, wearing a flared (presumably belted) tunic with the folds of a cloak rendered over his shoulders and holding a horn-shaped object in front with both hands. The bowl had been crushed flat, mended and patched prior to acquisition.
The composition is intended to represent a banqueting scene, with the head of the household clutching a drinking bowl while sharing a banqueting couch (kliné) with his wife, and being waited upon by a male servant. The limited size and shape of the available space may explain why the arms of the woman are incompletely rendered; the object held by the servant is presumably intended to be a rhyton (wine pourer). The legs of the couch are crudely depicted: during the Parthian period these were usually turned on a lathe whereas animal legs, particularly those terminating in lions' paws, are commoner in Sasanian art. The identity of the central figure is uncertain but as he lacks a crown, he is unlikely to be intended to be a member of royalty. His bushy hairstyle and belted tunic closely parallel funerary sculptures from the eastern Syrian oasis city of Palmyra which are dated between the late 2nd and early 3rd centuries AD. Comparable scenes of the same date recur in a cultic context at Hatra. The bowl is presumed to have belonged to the equivalent of a local nobleman or wealthy middle class person of this period.
This bowl was purchased in 1968 from Mrs Khalil Rabenou, and was formerly in the collection of Miss Dolorès Selikowitz. It is said to come from the Daylaman region of north-west Iran, where a large number of antiquities of this (as well as other) periods were reportedly discovered during the late 1950s and 1960s. A second, very similar, silver bowl exists in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, and is also said to come from Iran (Gunter & Jett 1992: 80-82). A bowl of identical form and lobed decoration (but with a plain centre) was found at Chilek, near Samarkand, and has been ascribed a 6th century Sogdian date (Marshak 1986: fig. 37).
- On display (G52/dc6)
- Exhibition history
2007- BM, G52/Rahim Iravani Gallery for Ancient Iran, case 6
2006 14 Sept-30 Dec, Paris, Cernuschi Museum, 'Les Perses Sassanides ou les Fastes d'un empire oublié'
2005-2006 Sept-Jan, London, BM, 'Forgotten Empire'
2004 16 Mar-2 May, BM, Round Reading Room 'Noruz/Haft Sin'
1995-2005 17 Nov-15 Dec, BM, G52/IRAN/13
1994 16 Jun-23 Dec, BM, G49/IRAN/13
1975-1990 Jul-Dec, BM, Iranian Room [IR], case 16, no. 7
1971, BM, 'Royal Persia: a commemoration of Cyrus the Great and his successors on the occasion of the 2500th anniversary of the founding of the Persian Empire'
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- First offered 9 December 1963 when described as being "found in Deylaman", and offered together with 134628.
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: P3 6M (presumed dealer's stock number typed on small rectangular label attached to the underside of the bowl)