The Sasanian empire was the last pre-Islamic Iranian empire. The term Sasanian refers to a dynasty that, from 224 until 651, ruled over much of what is now Iran and Iraq, including parts of Caucasus and eastern Anatolia and Afghanistan. Silverwork has always had a prominent place in the history of art of the ancient Near East, and LACMA's Sasanian silvers are among the finest. Most Sasanian silver vessels were created using various casting, hammering, and molding techniques. The gilding, which is evident on a majority of the vessels, was generally applied with a mercury amalgam. Pear-shaped vases with decorations in relief on a gilded background were among the silver vessels made in Iran during the sixth and seventh centuries. Around the neck of the vessel, underneath a row of pearl bosses, four female dancers are represented moving from left to right and holding ceremonial objects. One of the dancers, with an elegant coiffure, holds in her right hand what appears to be a basket of grapes or fruits upon which lies a falcon; in her left hand she has a staff wreathed with ivy or vines. Another dancer holds a cup containing wine or fruit; at her side trots a small dog on a leash. The figures have a close iconographic connection with imagery associated with Dionysus, probably indicating an assimilation of that cult into the Iranian fertility cult related to Anahita, the ancient Iranian goddess of love and waters (or fertility).More...
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