[ Previous ][Contents][ Next ]

epoch that with one or two exceptions these characteristics must be discarded as a means of identification. The decoration of the back of a seal as in figs. 11-14 seems to be essentially Sasanian. Metal seals (fig. 10), are common in this period and also in early Arabic times.

Subject matter must again be our principal criteria. Busts and full length human figures often wear distinctively Sasanian headdress. similar to those found upon the reliefs or the coinage(40) In matters of dress considerable caution must be exercised and a thorough knowledge of Parthian and Sasanian monuments is necessary for recognition of the close distinctions in draping and modeling which mark the later Parthian and early Sasanian costumes. The mysterious symbol found on a considerable number of seals(41) was common in Sasanian times and has not yet been found in the Parthian period. Although without any definite fixed form it preserved the same general idea throughout. Quite often the crescent which is usually the upper element is accompanied by what 'may be either the sun or a star. The whole is reminiscent of the front portion of the Sasanian crown, but the wide-spread and. varied occurrence of the design makes it unlikely that it is a royal mark of any sort. An unusual variant is to be found in number- 11, plate 11. Another very common motif is that of three flowers tied together with a band of ribbon the ends of which float gracefully away to either side (p]. 11, no. 12).

If there is an inscription on the seal, this may be used to settle the question of its Parthian or Sasanian origin. If the characters are Pehlevi the seal is probably Arsacid or may possibly be early Sasanian, if they are Parslk the seal may be tentatively placed in the Sasanid period.(42)

One of the general characteristics of the, seals of the late Parthian and Sasanian periods is a desire to fill all of the space available for the design. The late Parthian design may be spread out for this purpose as in number 4, plate 11, just as it is on architectural work of the same era. Later on, an inscription (pl. 11, no. 7) or a small border (pl, II, no. 13) was often used, or a cruder solution was found in small dots which were run around wherever a blank space presented itself (pl. 11, nos. 2,3 . Often a portion of the design was utilised for the same purpose as in number 14, plate 11, where for no particular reason a wide band of ribbon floats off behind the neck of a ram and thus fills up the space behind his head.

Final solutions to these problems must eventually come through excavation and the publication of the results. Until that time we shall have to content ourselves with generalizations based on an ever increasing body of comparative material.


40. Delaporte, Cyl. Orient., 1, p. 83, D. 262; von der Osten, Art Bull., XIII, 1931, p. 8, fig. 123; A. Mordtman, "Studien Żber geschnittene Stein mit Pehlevi Inschriften," ZDMG., XVIII, 1864, P. 5 f., pl. 1, no. 5; p. 9 f., pl. I, no. 10; p 34 f, pl. II, no. 106; p. 45, pl. II, no. 155; P. Horn, "Sasanidische Gemmen aus dem British Museum", ZDMG XLIV, 1890, p. 658, pl. Ia, no. 569; p. 671, pl. ID, no. Se.       41. Pl. II, nos. 8-11; the type is very commonsee also Charles C. Torrey, "Pehlevi Seat Inscriptions from Yale Collections," JAOS, LII, 1932, pl. facing p. 206, no. 8a, d, c; 10a, b: 11-13; 76; pl. facing p. 207, no.4496. 42. See E. Herzfeld, Paikuti, p. 77; Debevoise, Parthian Seats, in Pope, (ed), Persian Survey, forthcoming.

[ Previous ][Contents][ Next ]

Created by the Digital Documentation Center at AUB in collaboration with Al Mashriq of Høgskolen i Østfold, Norway.

980519 pas - Email: hseeden@aub.edu.lb