Dish with hunting scene
Sasanian c.8th Century or Khorosanian
Diameter 28.3 cm.
Middle Iranian inscription.
Published: Smirnov no. 61; Trever & Lukonin no. 17; Darkevich no. 115, pl. 2, pp. 57-59 (doubts Sasanian, but suggests Khorosan, end 7th-beginning of the 8th century).
Held by the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. Inv. no. S-247. Source
Referenced as Illustration 101, p115 in
Tamara Talbot Rice, Ancient Arts of Central Asia, 1965
101. Silver dish from Soghdia. Its decoration is derived from the large series of hunting scenes similar to that shown in
Ill. 73 produced by the Sassanians. Seventh century
It was Sassanian rather than Byzantine art which in early Christian times exercised most influence over the Soghdians.
Until recent years it was customary to ascribe a series of silver vessels decorated with figural scenes either to Sassanian or to Bactrian workshops.
Now, however, it has been suggested that many vessels resembling Sassanian ewers decorated with renderings of nude women presented in niches or beneath garlands in a manner somewhat reminiscent of the Bia Naiman ossuaries (Ill. 100) or dishes displaying hunting scenes (Ill. 101) may well have been made in Soghdia.
They are dated by Diakonov to between the sixth and eighth century AD. All bear a marked stylistic resemblance to the work carried out in Piandjikent and the warriors are shown wearing armour of a similar type.
In the eighth century the Arab invaders of Central Asia put an end to Soghdia's lively and fascinating school of figural art,
but here and there individual works either survived or continued to be produced to delight and inspire later generations of artists.
Love of figural art is difficult to eradicate and the wasp-waisted, broad shouldered heroes of Soghdian art were to set the standards aimed at by Firdausi and Islamic artists of late medieval times.
The Arabs never accepted the style and were, indeed, so shocked by the presence of human figures in the paintings which adorned the faÁade of the Great Mosque of Bokhara that they hurriedly destroyed them.
It is because of their opposition to work of this type that no figural paintings of early Islamic date survive in Central Asia, but Soghdian art provides good evidence that the roots of Islamic figural art are nevertheless to be sought in that area.
Referenced as figure 341 in The military technology of classical Islam by D Nicolle
341. Silver-gilt dish, 8th-9th centuries AD, Kurāsānī, Hermitage, Leningrad (Ric A).
Vol 1 pp.169-170 Protective felt and leather garments were used in China, Iran and Byzantium in the immediate pre-Islamic era14
(Figs. 18, 43, 45, 46, 95, 102, 197 and 473).
They continued to be worn in later centuries, particularly in Muslim Kurāsān15 and the rest of eastern Islam
(Figs. 127, 198, 209, 341, 410, 609I, 625 and 642C).
14. Laufur, op. cit., p. 292; Haldan, "Some Aspects of Byzantine Military Technology from the 6th to the 10th centuries," pp. 19 and 22; Aussareases, op. cit., p. 57; Fahmy, op. cit., pp. 149-150.
15. Al Jāḥiẓ, Rasā'il al Jāḥiẓ, pp. 20-21.
pp206-7 A form of leg protection known as the sāq seems to have been used throughout the period under review in many parts of the eastern Islamic world, though perhaps remaining rare. Some, or perhaps all, were fastened to a belt by iron hooks.27 Although those referred to by al Ṭabarī were of mail,28, their shape may have corresponded to leggings which, drawn up over the wearer's knees and presumably fastened to a belt, feature in many illustrated sources from the east (Figs. 18, 126, 233, 237, 300, 307, 313, 331, 334, 341, 342, 356, 359,
365, 400, 422, 468, 477 and 623.
27. Al Ṭabarī, op. cit. vol. II, pp. 586-587.
p327 As a last decorative feature there is the knotting of the horse's tail. This is again first seen in Sassanian Iran (Figs. 339 and 341), although here the pattern so formed generally consists of a single loop.
p347 Most of these Arab ʿAbbasid troops came from the east and eastern jund forces had probably already adopted many Iranian traditions. Thus, by the late 8th century, there may well have been little difference between Arab-speaking and more strictly Kurāsānī warriors from those regions. Our best available illustration of a Muslim warrior from eastern Iran, whose name of Pur-i Vahman may be an Arabic construction, appears on a silver-gilt plate now in the Hermitage (Fig. 341). His equipment is, in most respects, almost identical to that of the late
Umayyad horse-archer at Qaṣr al Ḥayr al Gharbī in Syria (Fig. 120).
Drawing of, and notes on, a Sogdian Horse Archer by Ian Heath
Sogdian murals from Panjakent (Panjikant), 6th-8th Centuries
A Sogdian Mortuary Couch, A.D. 550-577. China, Henan province, probably Ce xian
Sasanian Banquet Scene on a Post Sasanian Plate, 7th Century AD
Cup with horseman, Khwarezm c.7th to beginning of the 8th Century
Sogdian split tapestry (kilim) coat with animal motifs, Central Asia, 9th/10th Century
Plates with figures from Persia and Central Asia
Ancient Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers
Index of Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers