The glory of Sasanian art is there for all to see and different aspects of the art have been studied by researchers time and time again.
However, research on clothing during that era shows in no place has there been particular mention of belts. Only passing reference has been made to it.
According to Monika Dobur, belt is a tool of strength and stability for the one who wears it in the same manner as fortifications help provide safety and security for a city from the risk of attack, CAIS reported.
In times past, the belt was also regarded as a sign of commitment, oath and pledge as well as a symbol of purity, cleanness and power. The most ancient Iranian tradition and code in relation to the belt, as it is still exists is wearing the “Koshti” or “Kustik”. Kusti is the religious belt-like the cord worn by Zoroastrians (Behdins).
It is made of 72 threads of white lamp wool knitted in 6 sets. Each Behdin who reaches 7 to 15 years of old, after learning religious codes and ceremonies, appears before his family and friends and in a ritual (Sedreh-Pushi/Navjot ceremony), after washing himself, wears the Sedreh in the presence of the Mobed (priest) who fastens the Koshti on the Behdin’s waist.
This circle is the symbol of a battle belt and prepares the Behdin to fight uncleanness and lies. History has it that before the prophecy of Zoroaster and in his childhood, fastening Koshti was an old tradition.
The impressive tradition was maintained for centuries and one can say that wearing Koshti was the norm during the Sasanian dynasty where Zoroastrianism gained its long and lasted values.
The modern term of ‘Kamar-Bastan’ in new Persian, meaning tying to the waist, or to put on the belt, is a phrase that has gradually come to mean “being ready for work”, is continuation of that tradition.
Save for a few frescoes and gold dishes, there are no other reliable sources to study belts during Sasanian rule. As is known, Sasanian art is a royal art and was the sole premise of kings, princes, soldiers, musicians, minstrels...
By studying works from the Sasanian period (metal dishes, frescoes…) belts could be divided in 14 groups:
1. Belts with solid balls stuck together
This is a leather belt with small balls of stones or metals fixed closely on it.
This type of belt is seen in the following works:
- Firouzabad, a part of the scene of victory of Ardeshir the First, Battle of Two Noblemen, 3rd century CE.
Nawsh Rajab on the body of Shapur, the accompanying persons and officers, 3rd century CE.
Hunting of Sasanian kings, work on silver plate, 5th and 6th CE.
2. Leather belt without buckles
This includes a wide and leather band with folds at both ends and 20-30 cm length. This belt has no buckles and is fastened by a knot.
-Statue of Shapur, 3rd century, short plain belt with simple knot.
Naqsh Rostam, the scene of presenting the crown to Nersy by Anahita, 3rd and 4th centuries CE. All four persons have belts with no buckles, fastened by a propeller knot.
3. Leather belt with buckles and long tail
With some differences in the shape of buckles, four models are seen in items from the 3rd century. In all cases, the belts are long and after passing through buckles, the end parts are left loose on the waist in both parts with arc shapes and the middle part is fastened in the side of waist. The left part is left loose on the side of the body.
Naqsh-e Rostam, victory of Shapur over Valerian, 3rd century CE.
In this work the buckle of Philip the Arab is a plain rectangular and Valerian’s is a small ring.
Soldiers of Valerian have belts with large buckles.
Bishapur, Victory of Shapur, 3rd century AD., the person accompanying Shapur has the same belt with a buckle made of two symmetric rectangular and two circles opposite each other and the middle part of the tail of the belt is tied on side with a tussle-shaped pin.
4. Ribbon-shape belt
This belt was for women and consisted of a plain ribbon with a knot under the breast.
5. Leather belt with twin circular buckles and loose ends
Taq-e Bostan, the scene of the crown ceremony of King Ardeshir II, all three standing figures; Mihtra, Ardeshir the second and Ahura Mazda (the great Mobad) wear the same belts -- 4th century CE.
This belt is seen among the costume of kings during their hunting expeditions, on figures on silver plates with gold plating, and a plate found in Russia, late 5th century or early 6th century CE.
6. Leather belt with twin buckles, with no loose end
This type of belt is in plain leather with a buckle shaped as two stuck circles. This style can be seen on the gold-plated silver dishes with picture of Shapur-II during a hunting of boars in the 4th century.
7. Metal belt with square figures
This type is made of square shape frames joining each other; with square cut stones in the middle of each frame.
The model is seen in a plate discovered in Deylaman, Guilan, known as Shapur-II in the 4th century.
Similar shapes are found on a gold-plated silver plate with figures of Ardeshir-III while hunting, 7th century CE.
There is a silver plate with the figure of feast of Bahram Gour belonging to 5th century with three types of belts.
8. Cloth belt
This is a plain shawl wrapped around the waist and is fastened by a knot in front.
In the plate, which was used by Bahram Gour himself, and in Taqe-e-Bostan fresco, the man who is offering the crown to Khosrow-II (Ahura Mazda) war the same belt.
9. Plain cloth belt, without buckles and loose end
Perhaps, this belt can be classified as belt type 4 which was a simple ribbon.
These can be found on the paintings on a vase found in Kelardasht (north Iran) in the 6th century.
10. Shawl type cloth belt with long loose end
In a plate that shows Bahram Gur hunting a lion, 5th century CE, Bahram is wearing a belt with very long loose end.
11. Leather belt with stone decorations all of the same size in a row
This belt can be seen only in one place, Taqe-e-Bostan, the fresco of Boar Hunting, 5th century. The belt is worn by the king on a boat and has an outstanding impression.
12. Leather belt with stone and metal ring decorations
This type is seen on a silver plate that shows a feast of a Sasanian prince and belongs to the 6th or 7th CE.
The prince wears a belt and leans on a gold-fiber throne. The belt is made of leather with stones and metal ring buckles.
13. Metal belt with joining rings
On a gold-coated vase belonging to the 6-7th centuries CE there is a minstrel wearing a belt made of hollow metal rings. The rings are joined like a necklace with tiny clamps to form a chain.
14. Leather belt for carrying a sword
In addition to their ordinary belts, a leather sheath for carrying a sword is also seen on the body of all Sasanian warriors.