Tag Archives: Art History

Achaemenid Seal and Monumental Art

Drawing of a lenticular seal from Tomb 33, Prosymna. Athens (after Sakellarakis 1982, no. 27)

The recent volume Friedhelm Pedde & Nathanael Shelley (eds.), Assyromania and More. In Memory of Samuel M. Paley (Marru. Studien Zur Vorderasiatischen Archäologie 4), . Münster: Zaphon. contains two chapters of hight interest for Iranian and Achaemenid Studies:

The Iranian expanse

Canepa, Matthew. 2018. The Iranian expanse: Transforming royal identity through architecture, landscape, and the built environment, 550 BCE-642 CE.  Oakland, California: University of California Press.

The Iranian Expanse explores how kings in the ancient Iranian world utilized the built and natural environment–everything from royal cities and paradise gardens, to hunting enclosures and fire temples–to form and contest Iranian cultural memory, royal identity, and sacred cosmologies over a thousand years of history. Although scholars have often noted startling continuities between the traditions of the Achaemenids and the art and architecture of medieval or Early Modern Islam, the tumultuous millennium between Alexander and Islam has routinely been downplayed or omitted. The Iranian Expanse delves into this fascinating period, examining royal culture and identity as something built and shaped by strategic changes to architectonic and urban spaces and the landscape of Western Asia. Canepa shows how the Seleucids, Arsacids, and Sasanians played a transformative role in developing a new Iranian royal culture that deeply influenced not only early Islam, but also the wider Persianate world of the Il-Khans, Safavids, Timurids, and Mughals

Sasanian seals: Owners and Reusers

Seal of Weh-dēn-Šābuhr Ērānanbaragbed (Gyselen 2017)

Gyselen, Rika. 2017. Sasanian seals: Owners and reusers. In Ben van den Bercken & Vivian Baan (eds.), Engraved gems: From antiquity to the present (Papers on Archaeology of the Leiden Museum of Antiquities 14), 85–92. Leiden: Sidestone Press.

The majority of Sasanian seals are anonymous and anepigraphic. Some are engraved with an inscription, sometimes a personal name or the name of an institution. This information allows seal owners to be identified. It can be provided by:

A. Sigillographic data, that is, data intrinsic to the seal itself. This can be epigraphic and/or iconographic.

B. Textual data in a document with a sealed clay bulla still attached.

Seals were sometimes reused by subsequent owners; on some seals this reuse can be traced.

How Objects Tell Stories

Linduff, Katheryn & Karen Rubinson (eds.). 2018. How objects tell stories. Essays in honor of Emma C. Bunker (Inner and Central Asian Art and Archaeology 1). Turnhout: Brepols Publishers.

Inner and Central Asian Art and Archaeology is a new series launched providing a major forum for discussion and publication of current international research projects and fieldwork concerning the art and archaeology of Central and Inner Asia. Uniquely the series covers the vast regions flanking the ancient Silk Roads from the Iranian world to western China and from the Russian steppes to north-western India. The series mainly focuses on the pre-Islamic period of art and archaeology of Inner Asia. Related scholarly articles on language and history are also published.

Source: How Objects Tell Stories

Persian Art

Carey, Moya. 2018. Persian art: Collecting the arts of Iran in the nineteenth century. London: V&A Publishing.

Today the Victoria and Albert Museum holds extensive and renowned collections of Iranian art, spanning at least twelve centuries of Iran’s sophisticated cultural history. These objects range from archaeological finds to architectural salvage, from domestic furnishings and drinking vessels to design archives. Most of this diverse material was purchased in the late nineteenth century, over a few decades – roughly between 1873 and 1893 – during a specific period of contact between Victorian Britain and Qajar Iran.

This book investigates that period through four case studies, showing how architects, diplomats, dealers, collectors and craftsmen engaged with Iran’s complex visual traditions, ancient and modern.

Moya Carey is the Iran Heritage Foundation Curator for the Iranian Collections at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Safavid Occidentalism and Persian Painting

In ʿAli Qoli Jebādār et l’Occidentalism safavide Negar Habibi provides a fresh account of the life and works of ʿAli Qoli Jebādār, a leading painter of the late Safavid period. By collecting several of the artist’s paintings and signatures Habibi brings to light the diversity of ʿAli Qoli Jebādār’s most important works. In addition, the volume offers us new insights into both the artistic and socio-political evolution of Iranian society in the last days of pre-modern Iran. By carefully consulting the historical sources, Negar Habibi demonstrates the possibility of a female and eunuch patronage in the seventeenth-century paintings known as farangi sāzi, while suggesting the use of the term “Occidentalism” for those Safavid paintings that show some exotic and alien details of the Western world.

Continue reading Safavid Occidentalism and Persian Painting

Tāq-e Kasrā: Wonder of Architecture

Kasra: Wonder of Architecture

Directed by Pejman Akbarzadeh

7.00pm, Thursday 1 February 2018

Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS University of London
Russell Square WC1H 0XG
Tāq-e Kasrā (Arch of Ctesiphon) in 2017. Photo © Pejman Akbarzadeh

Taq Kasra: Wonder of Architecture is the first-ever documentary film on the world’s largest brickwork vault. The palace was the symbol of the Persian Empire in the Sasanian era (224-651 AD), when a major part of Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) was part of Persia. Taq Kasra was in serious danger of ISIS attacks in 2015-2016 and this was the main motivation for documentary maker Pejman Akbarzadeh, based in Holland, to travel to Iraq twice and film the arch before it was potentially destroyed. (Read more)

Watch the trailer here.

The documentary is produced by the Persian Dutch Network, in association with Toos Foundation, and partially funded by the Soudavar Memorial Foundation.

Following the screening, a Q&A session will be held with the presence of the documentary director Pejman Akbarzadeh and Vesta Sarkhosh-Curis of the British Museum, a scholar of Persian art in Sasanian and Parthian eras.

Admission Free – All Welcome

Organised by: Centre for Iranian Studies

Information: E-mail vp6@soas.ac.uk

The Imagery of the Ritual Landscape at Persepolis

Garrison, Mark B. 2017. The ritual landscape at persepolis: glyptic imagery from the persepolis fortification and treasury archives. (Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization 71). Chicago, IL: Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

There are, perhaps, no more contentious issues within the study of Achaemenid Persia than those surrounding its religion(s) and religious iconography. Owing to the role that fire plays in Zoroastrian beliefs in later periods in Iran, almost any discussion of the subject of Achaemenid religion will eventually turn to the identification of sacred fire, fire temples, fire worship, and fire altars in the archaeological, epigraphic, and literary records.

The focus of this book is a corpus of glyptic imagery preserved as impressions on two large archives of administrative tablets from Persepolis, the Persepolis Fortification archive (509-493 BC) and the Persepolis Treasury archive (492-457 BC). The glyptic imagery here published concerns representations of what have been traditionally termed “fire altars” and/or “fire temples.” Most of this glyptic evidence has never been published; many of the structures and the scenes in which they occur are strikingly original.
The goals of this study are to introduce a new corpus of visual imagery concerning religious ritual in the Achaemenid period and to explore the significance of this visual language for our understanding of ritual traditions emerging within the heart of the empire at its most critical formative period, the reign of Darius I. This study seeks also to use the Persepolitan glyptic evidence as a springboard to re-visit the most famous “fire altar” depicted in Achaemenid art, that on the tomb relief of Darius I at Naqs-e Rostam.

This study is an initial step in the development of a religious topography for the zone encompassing Persepolis and Naqs-e Rostam, both a topography on the imaginary level (through images) and a topography on the physical level (through the built space). The glyptic images assembled in this study are the most numerous, the most visually complex, and the best dated and contextualized evidence that currently exists for the study of fire in ritual, and religious ritual more broadly, in early Achaemenid Iran.

You can download and read this volume here.

Persian Art: Image-making in Eurasia

Kadoi, Yuka (ed.). 2017. Persian Art: Image-making in Eurasia. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

In this illustrated book, nine contributors explore multifaceted aspects of art, architecture and material culture of the Persian cultural realm, encompassing West Asia, Anatolia, Central Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Europe. Each chapter examines the historical, religious or scientific role of visual culture in the shaping, influencing and transforming of distinctive ‘Persian’ aesthetics across the various historical periods, ranging from pre-Islamic, medieval and early modern Islamic to modern times.

Table of Contents:
  • Judith A. Lerner: “The Visual Culture of Greater Iran: Some Examples of Kushano-Sasanian Art”
  • Matteo Compareti: “The Late Sasanian Figurative Capitals at Taq-i Bustan: Proposals Regarding Identification and Origins
  • Richard Piran McClary: “Architecture of the Wider Persian World: From Central Asia to Western Anatolia in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries”
  • Yuka Kadoi: “From Acquisition to Display: The Reception of Chinese Ceramics in the Pre-modern Persian World”
  • Tobias Nünlist: “Devotion and Protection: Four Amuletic Scrolls from Safavid Persia”
  • Iván Szántó: “The Minarets of Hurmuzgan”
  • Raquel Santos: “Persia, India or Indo-Persian? The Study of Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-century Knotted Pile Carpets”
  • Francesco Stermotich-Cappellari: “The Calligraphic Art of Mishkin Qalam”
  • Markus Ritter: “The Kashan Mihrab in Berlin: A Historiography of Persian Lustreware”

Crowns, hats, turbans and helmets

Maksymiuk, Katarzyna & Gholamreza Karamian (eds.). 2017. Crowns, hats, turbans and helmets. The headgear in Iranian history. Volume I: Pre-Islamic Period. Siedlce & Tehran: Siedlce University of Natural Sciences and Humanities.

Table of contents:

  • Joanna SZKLARZ: Significance of the Helmet in fight between Sohrāb and Gordāfarid
  • Dan-Tudor IONESCU: The Use of the Tiara as symbol of Persian Achaemenid Kingship: why Alexander the Great didn’t adopt it?
  • Svyatoslav V. SMIRNOV: Revising Seleukid Iconography: A Person Wearing Helmet and Conflict of Imageries
  • Ulf JÄGER: Morion-type Helmets of Gandhāra. A rare Kušān-period helmet-type of the 1st to the 3rd / 4th century CE – A very first preliminary attempt
  • Mariusz MIELCZAREK: Arms and Armour on Kušān coins. Royal images
  • Patryk SKUPNIEWICZ, Marcin LICHOTA: Diadem on the head from Khalchayan battle scene and possible reconstruction of the composition
  • Katarzyna MAKSYMIUK: Ram’s Horns as a Religious Element of Sasanian Kings’ Military Equipment (notes to Amm. Marc. XIX.1.3)
  • Gholamreza KARAMIAN, Kaveh FARROKH, Adam KUBIK, Mandana TAHERI OSHTERINANI: An Examination of Parthian and Sasanian Military Helmets (2nd century BC-7th century CE)
  • Ilkka SYVÄNNE: A Note on the Methodology regarding the Reconstruction of the Late Roman Helmets in Art, Archaeology and Analysis
  • Marta CZERWIENIEC-IVASYK: Helmet or a crown? – A few comments on the margin of the Sasanian coins discovered in the Baltic Sea area
  • Adam KUBIK: Sasanian lamellar helmets
  • Patryk SKUPNIEWICZ: On the Helmet on the Capital at Ṭāq-e Bostān again
  • David NICOLLE: One-piece Sasanian and Early Islamic Helmets
  • Sergei Yu. KAINOV: The Helmet from Krasnodar Territory