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Iran in international museums Kneeling bull holding a spouted vessel

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Kneeling bull holding a spouted vessel

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Kneeling bull holding a spouted vessel
Period: Proto-Elamite
Date: ca. 3100–2900 B.C.
Geography: Southwestern Iran
Culture: Proto-Elamite
Medium: Silver
Dimensions: 6 7/16 x 2 1/2 x 4 1/4in. (16.3 x 6.3 x 10.8cm)
Classification: Metalwork-Sculpture
Credit Line: Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1966
Accession Number: 66.173 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Kneeling bull holding a spouted vessel
Soon after the political transformations of the Uruk period in southern Mesopotamia, similar innovations—including writing and cylinder seals, the mass production of standardized ceramics, and a figural art style—developed around the city of Susa in southwestern Iran, an area in which the predominant language was Elamite. While most of these innovations were adapted from Mesopotamian examples, they all took on distinctive Elamite characteristics in Iran.


This small silver bull, clothed in a robe decorated with a stepped pattern and holding a spouted vessel, shows a curious blend of human and animal traits. The large neck meets distinctly human shoulders, which taper into arms that end in hooves. Representations of animals in human postures were common in Proto-Elamite art, possibly as symbols of natural forces but just as likely as protagonists in myths or fables. The function of this small masterpiece remains uncertain. Traces of cloth that were found affixed to the figure suggest that it was intentionally buried, perhaps as part of a ritual or ceremony.

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Iran in international museums Rhyton terminating in the forepart of a wild cat

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Rhyton terminating in the forepart of a wild cat

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Rhyton terminating in the forepart of a wild cat

Period: Parthian
Date: ca. 1st century B.C.
Geography: Iran
Culture: Parthian
Medium: Silver, mercury gilding
Dimensions: H. 10 7/8 in. (27.5 cm)
Classification: Metalwork-Vessels
Credit Line: Purchase, Rogers Fund; Enid A. Haupt, Mrs. Donald M. Oenslager, Mrs. Muriel Palitz and Geert C. E. Prins Gifts; Pauline V. Fullerton Bequest; and Bequests of Mary Cushing Fosburgh, Edward C. Moore and Stephen Whitney Phoenix, by exchange, 1979
Accession Number: 1979.447 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Rhyton terminating in the forepart of a wild cat

Elaborate bowls, animal-headed drinking vessels, and rhytons—vessels which have a hole at the front from which liquid flows—were highly valued in ancient Near Eastern society. During the pre-Achaemenid, Achaemenid, and Parthian periods, examples made of silver, gold, and clay were used throughout a vast area extending both to the east and west of Iran. The animals on these vessels included the ram, horse, bull, ibex, supernatural creatures, and female divinities; some were engraved with royal inscriptions. Rhytons made of precious materials were probably luxury wares used at royal courts. Both the rhyton and the animal-headed vessel were adopted by the Greek world as exotic and prestigious Oriental products.


Dating from the Parthian period, this silver rhyton is a fine example of the enduring influence of Hellenistic culture, which owes much to the artistic traditions of Achaemenid Iran. The horn-shaped vessel ends in the forepart of a panther; a spout for pouring is in the middle of the chest. A gilded fruit-laden grapevine winds around the panther's chest; at the other end of the rhyton, an ivy wreath encircles the rim. These are the symbols of the Greek wine god Dionysus, whose cult spread eastward with the invasion of Alexander. Dionysiac images—panthers, grapevines, and dancing females—were absorbed by the Parthians and continued to appear in the art of Near Eastern cultures in the Sasanian period (A.D. 224–651).

 

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Iran in international museums Silk Fragment with a Rosebush, Bird, and Deer Pattern

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Silk Fragment with a Rosebush, Bird, and Deer Pattern

Silk Fragment with a Rosebush, Bird, and Deer Pattern

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Silk Fragment with a Rosebush, Bird, and Deer Pattern
Object Name: Fragment
Date: late 17th–early 18th century
Geography: Iran
Culture: Islamic
Medium: Silk, silver- and gilded metal wrapped thread; compound twill weave, brocaded
Dimensions: Textile: H. 44 5/8 in. (113.3 cm) W. 27 3/4 in. (70.5 cm) Mount: H. 50 1/4 in. (127.6 cm) W. 32 3/4 in. (83.2 cm) D. 1 1/2 in. (3.8 cm) Wt. 34 lbs. (15.4 kg)
Classification: Textiles-Woven
Credit Line: Anonymous Gift, 1949
Accession Number: 49.32.99 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Silk Fragment with a Rosebush, Bird, and Deer Pattern
Iranian silk production expanded markedly in the early seventeenth century, thanks to the patronage of Shah 'Abbas I. Silk was most intensively farmed in the Caspian Sea provinces of Gilan and Mazandaran and was woven all over Iran. Raw silk was also exported to Turkey, Russia, Central Asia, India, and Europe. The motifs of a rosebush, birds, and deer on this piece relate it to the popular group of bird and flower textiles in the seventeenth century, anticipating the fashion for bird and flower decoration in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The unnatural relationship of scale among the birds, deer, and flowers is most likely the artist’s interpretation.

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Iran in international museums Luster Star-Shaped Tile

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Luster Star-Shaped Tile

Luster Star-Shaped Tile

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Luster Star-Shaped Tile
Object Name: Star-shaped tile
Date: dated A.H. 608/A.D. 1211–12
Geography: Iran, Kashan
Culture: Islamic
Medium: Stonepaste; luster-painted on opaque glaze with inglaze painting
Dimensions: Gr. Diam.12 3/4 in. (32.1 cm) H. 3/4 in. (1.9 cm)
Classification: Ceramics-Tiles
Credit Line: H.O. Havemeyer Collection, Gift of Horace Havemeyer, 1940
Accession Number: 40.181.1  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Luster Star-Shaped Tile
Although the technology is believed to have originated in Iraq in the early ninth century and first spread westward to Egypt and Syria, lusterware became a dominant type of ceramic production in medieval Iran, possibly having spread from Egypt to Iran in the early 12th century by artisans migrating to set up workshops. Within Iran the town of Kashan was the finest and most prolific producer of lusterware. One aspect that sets Iranian lusterwares apart from their western Islamic counterparts is the remarkable frequency with which these pieces were accompanied by signatures and dates of manufacture. On the tile presented here, a depiction of a sultan surrounded by members of the court is framed by three quatrains of Persian poetry and dated to the year A.H. 608 (A.D. 1211–12). The leopard and birds may imply that the scene is set outdoors

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Iran in international museums Ewer with a Feline-Shaped Handle

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Ewer with a Feline-Shaped Handle

Ewer with a Feline-Shaped Handle

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Ewer with a Feline-Shaped Handle
Object Name: Ewer
Date: 7th century
Geography: Iran
Culture: Islamic
Medium: Bronze; cast, chased, and inlaid with copper
Dimensions: Max. H. 19 1/8 in. (48.5 cm); Max. Diam. 8 1/4 in. (21.1 cm)
Classification: Metal
Credit Line: Fletcher Fund, 1947
Accession Number: 47.100.90 The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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Ewer with a Feline-Shaped Handle

This ewer demonstrates a continuation of Parthian and Sasanian forms during the early Islamic period in Iran. The lobed forms represent mountains and the vertical lines surmounted by budlike shapes are probably plants. Its overall composition and motifs demonstrate the transition from a figural style to a growing taste for rhythmic repeating patterns. The handle is shaped like an elongated cat peering at the heads of two birds depicted on the rim of the vessel, as though about to pounce.

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Iran in international museums Spouted jar

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Spouted jar                                                                                                                      2015-05-26 11:24:53

 

Spouted jar Hasanlu in northwestern Iran

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Spouted jar
Period: Iron Age II
Date: ca. 9th century B.C.
Geography: Iran, Hasanlu
Culture: Iran
Medium: Ceramic
Dimensions: H. 8 1/2 in. (21.7 cm)
Classification: Ceramics-Vessels
Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1960
Accession Number: 60.20.15  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Spouted jar
Hasanlu in northwestern Iran is best known as the site of a citadel that was destroyed in about 800 B.C., most likely by an army from Urartu coming from eastern Turkey. Thousands of artifacts of terracotta, bronze, iron, gold, silver, and ivory were recovered from the monumental buildings, which were characterized by an elaborate entrance and a large central hall with columns that supported a two-story superstructure.

This gray-ware jar and stand, found in a burial in the cemetery of Hasanlu, is typical of Iron Age pottery of northwestern Iran. Many other aspects of culture, including architectural form, mode of burial, and style of bronze weapons and small objects, were altered at this time, leading some scholars to suggest a migration of new people into the region at the beginning of the Iron Age.

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Iran in international museums Clasp with an eagle and its prey

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Clasp with an eagle and its prey

www.irangazette.com/enimages/Iran-in-international-museum.Clasp-with-an-eagle-and-its-prey.jpg

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Clasp with an eagle and its prey
Period: Parthian
Date: ca. A.D. 1st–2nd century
Geography: Iran
Culture: Parthian
Medium: Gold, turquoise inlay
Dimensions: H. 6 cm, W. 8.4 cm
Classification: Metalwork-Ornaments
Credit Line: Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number: 17.190.2055 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Clasp with an eagle and its prey
This solid gold ornament is in the form of a roundel with two projecting elements that have slots for the attachment of a strap. The rim of the roundel, consisting of eighteen thumbnail-shaped cells for turquoise inlay in the manner of some Sarmatian roundels, frames the openwork figure of an eagle in high relief. Grasping a small, crouching animal in its talons, the bird perches in three-quarter view, facing right, with its chest extended and the rest of its body receding into the background. Its wings are outspread, the one on the left seen emerging from behind the swelling of the chest and the one on the right receding into the back plane. The body and legs carry ridges and linear patterning to suggest the texture of feathers. The bird's head is in profile, with a cell for the prominent ear, a protrusion at the eye area, a curved beak, and a downcurved line for the mouth. The entire figure is worked in the round, although the back is distorted and not as carefully finished as the front.

The eagle's prey has been variously identified as an antelope, a goat, and a hare. Turquoise is inlaid in its large ear and in several places on its body. The tabs on either side of the roundel have cells for inlays at the corners in the form of debased acanthus leaves.

This piece is one of a pair; its mate, in the British Museum, London, depicts an eagle facing the opposite way. It was thought by Ernst Herzfeld to be part of a treasure found in 1910–11 in a chamber tomb near Nihavend in Iran. Herzfeld speculated that this trove had belonged to an aristocratic Parthian family and had originally included a group of Roman gold coins of the first to second century A.D. that surfaced independently in modern times. Another related piece of jewelry, found in excavations at Dalverzin Tepe in Iran, can be dated archaeologically to the first century A.D.

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Iran in international museums Vase with overlapping pattern and three bands of palm trees

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Vase with overlapping pattern and three bands of palm trees

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Vase with overlapping pattern and three bands of palm trees
Date: ca. mid- to late 3rd millennium B.C.
Geography: Persian Gulf region or southern Iran
Medium: Chlorite
Dimensions: H. 23.5 cm
Classification: Stone-Vessels
Credit Line: Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number: 17.190.106 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Vase with overlapping pattern and three bands of palm trees
Vessels carved of a gray-green stone in what is called the "Intercultural Style" were made in the greater Gulf area as well as in southern Iran. At the site of Tepe Yahya in Iran, workshops were found with vessels and the raw materials—chlorite or steatite—for their manufacture, dating to the mid-third millennium B.C. The stones were available in the nearby hills. Fragments of containers were also found at sites in the Gulf area. Vessels decorated in this style were found across the ancient Near East from Syria to the Indus Valley, evidence of the flourishing long-distance trade of the times.

This piece has a tall shape with a flaring rim and is carved in alternating bands of an overlapping mountainlike pattern and date palm trees. The repertoire of motifs of the "Intercultural Style" includes vegetal, architectural, and abstract or naturalistic representations of people and animals.

Many excavated examples have been found in palaces and temples or in graves of the privileged classes in major urban centers, including Sumerian (Early Dynastic) Mesopotamia. The vessels may also have been valuable for their contents.

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Iran in international museums Luster Bowl with Winged Horse

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Luster Bowl with Winged Horse

Luster Bowl with Winged Horse

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Luster Bowl with Winged Horse
Object Name: Bowl
Date: late 12th century
Geography: Iran
Culture: Islamic
Medium: Stonepaste; luster-painted on opaque monochrome glaze
Dimensions: H. 3 1/4 in (8.3 cm) Diam. 8 in. (20.3 cm)
Classification: Ceramics
Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1916
Accession Number: 16.87 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Luster Bowl with Winged Horse

In the twelfth century, potters emigrating from Egypt or Syria introduced luster‑painted ceramics to Iran. Consequently, early luster production in Iran shares characteristics with lusterwares made in Fatimid Egypt. The monumental quality of this bowl’s design, the large‑scale winged horse reserved in white against a clearly distinguished luster ground, and the festooned border all demonstrate this connection.

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Iran in international museums Cup with a frieze of gazelles

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Cup with a frieze of gazelles

Cup with a frieze of gazelles

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Cup with a frieze of gazelles
Period: Iron Age II
Date: ca. early 1st millennium B.C.
Geography: Northwestern Iran, Caspian region
Culture: Iran
Medium: Gold
Dimensions: H. 2 1/2 in. (6.5 cm)
Classification: Metalwork-Vessels
Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1962
Accession Number: 62.84

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Cup with a frieze of gazelles
A number of vessels similar in form and technique to this one have been excavated in the rich burials at Marlik, a site southwest of the Caspian Sea in northern Iran; one is also known from Susa, in southwestern Iran.

On the body of the cup, four gazelles, framed horizontally by guilloche bands, walk in procession to the left. Their bodies are rendered in the repoussé technique and are detailed with finely chased lines to indicate hair and musculature. The projecting heads were made separately, as were the ears and horns, and were fastened invisibly in place by a colloid hard-soldering, a process much practiced in Iran involving glue and copper salt. The hooves and eyes are indented, probably to receive inlays.

 

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