Tag Archives: Art History

The big and beautiful women of Asia

A slightly older but important article by Llewellyn-Jones dealing with the imagery of Achaemenid period seals and gemstones:

Llewellyn-Jones, Lloyd. 2010. The big and beautiful women of Asia: Ethnic conceptions of ideal beauty in Achaemenid period seals and gemstones. In Hales, Shelley & Tamar Hodos (eds.), Material culture and social identities in the ancient world. Cambridge: CUP.

Read the article here.

Rayy: Origins and the Mongol invasion

Rante, Rocco. 2014. Rayy: from its origins to the Mongol invasion. Leiden, Boston: Brill.

This book offers a new history of the ancient city of Rayy. Based on the results of the latest excavations on the Citadel and the Shahrestan (the political and administrative nucleus of the city in all periods), the study of historical and geographical texts and on surveys carried out between 2005 and 2007 by the author and the Iranian archaeologist, Ghadir Afround, the complete occupation sequence of the city, from its foundation in the Iron Age and the Parthian reconstructions (2nd to 1st centuries BC), up to the Mongol invasions and rapid depopulation in the 13th century CE, comes to light.

For more information, see here.

Review: The millennial sovereign

Truschke, Audrey. 2014. Review of Afzar Moin: The millennial sovereign: Sacred kingship and sainthood in Islam. New York: Columbia University Press. International Journal of Middle East Studies 46. 809–842.

The Millennial Sovereign recovers a shared world of sacred kingship that pervaded India, Iran, and Central Asia in early modernity. A. Azfar Moin argues that a Timurid-based social dispensation produced a particular type of sovereignty in which a ruler promoted his political claims largely through embodied spiritual practices.

Read the review here.

Cosmopolitanism in the Tang dynasty

Since most of this week’s posts relate to Eastern Iranian regions, I thought I would also post this announcement for a forthcoming publication by Valenstein, who has previously published Cultural Convergence in the Northern Qi Period: A flamboyant Chinese ceramic container. The forthcoming volume was already announced in 2012, but publication seems to now be imminent:

Valenstein, Suzanne. 2014. Cosmopolitanism in the Tang dynasty: A Chinese ceramic figure of a Sogdian wine-merchant. Los Angeles: Bridge21 Publications. Distributed by Transaction Publishers in Piscataway, NJ.

Intangible spirits and graven images

Congratulations to Michael Shenkar for publishing his book, which is already being endorsed by many scholars.

Shenkar, Michael. 2014. Intangible spirits and graven images: The iconography of deities in the pre-Islamic Iranian world. Leiden: Brill.

In Intangible Spirits and Graven Images, Michael Shenkar investigates the perception of ancient Iranian deities and their representation in the Iranian cults. This ground-breaking study traces the evolution of the images of these deities, analyses the origin of their iconography, and evaluates their significance. Shenkar also explores the perception of anthropomorphism and aniconism in ancient Iranian religious imagery, with reference to the material evidence and the written sources, and reassesses the value of the Avestan and Middle Persian texts that are traditionally employed to illuminate Iranian religious imagery. In doing so, this book provides important new insights into the religion and culture of ancient Iran prior to the Islamic conquest.

See here for more.

Topographies of power

Canepa, Matthew. 2014. Topographies of power: Theorizing the visual, spatial and ritual contexts of rock reliefs in ancient Iran. In Ömür Harmanşah (ed.), Of rocks and water: Towards an archaeology of place (Joukowsky Institute Publication 5). 55–92. Oxford/Havertown, PA: Oxbow Books.

A Sasanian chariot

Shenkar, Michael. 2013. A Sasanian chariot drawn by birds and the iconography of Sraosha. In Sergei Tokhtasev & Pavel Lurje (eds.), Commentationes Iranicae. Vladimiro f. Aaron Livschits nonagenario donum natalicium, 211–223. St. Petersburg: Nestor-Historia.

Read the article here.

A goddess or a queen?

Shenkar, Michael. 2013. A goddess or a queen? On the interpretation of the female figure on the relief of Narseh at Naqš-e Rostam (in Russian). In Scripta Antiqua, vol. 3: Edward Rtveladze felicitation volume. Moscow.

Read there article here. Abstract:

The article offers a reassessment of the identity of the female figure found on the relief of the Sasanian king Narseh at Naqš-e Rostam. Based on iconographic analysis of the relief and discussion of the arguments put forward by A. Sh. Shahbazi and U. Weber, it is concluded that the figure is not a queen but rather a goddess. She is most probably to be identified with the goddess Anāhitā, to whom Narseh was perhaps personally devoted. This discussion is followed by a critical examination of the pictorial representations of Anāhitā in the pre-Islamic Iranian world. It is emphasized that Anāhitā was a western Iranian goddess whose worship was probably imported to Bactria after this part of the eastern Iranian world came under the rule of the Sasanian kings.