Plate with youths and winged horses ,


This gilded silver Sasanian plate features an unusual scene that borrows from Graeco-Roman prototypes and possibly Iranian ones as well. Two youths stand on platforms facing one another, each holding a staff and the reins of a winged horse, reminiscent of representations of the hero Bellerophon and Pegasus as well as of the Dioskouroi (the divine twins Castor and Pollux). Both horses bend their necks down to drink from a large vessel supported by a female figure, who appears in bust form emerging from a frieze of half-palmettes. She is most likely either a personification of water or the Iranian river goddess Anahita. In the background, a small cross-legged figure plays the lute. The scene may have cosmic significance, if indeed the two youths represent the constellation Gemini, called Do-paykar in Middle Persian astronomical texts.

Sasanian silver bowls were usually hammered into shape and then decorated in various complex techniques. On this plate, pieces of metal were added to create areas of high relief, and other details were achieved through the use of repoussé.

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 405

Public Domain

Object Details

Period: Sasanian

Date: ca. 5th–6th century A.D.

Geography: Iran

Culture: Sasanian

Medium: Silver, mercury gilding

Dimensions: H. 5.2 x Diam. 21 cm, 572g (2 1/16 x 8 1/4 in.)

Classification: Metalwork-Vessels

Credit Line: Fletcher Fund, 1963

Accession Number: 63.152

Acquired by the Museum in 1963, purchased from Nuri Farhadi and Habib Anavian, New York.

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“The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Selections from the Collection of the Ancient Near East Department,” MOA Museum of Art, Atami, Japan, The Aiche Prefectural Art Gallery, Nagoya, Japan, The Seibu Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan, 1983.

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Ghirshman, Roman. 1974. "Les Dioscures ou Bellerophon?" In Ph. Gignoux and A. Tafazzoli (eds.). Mémorial Jean de Menasce. Fondation Culturelle Iranienne. Louvain: Imprimerie Orientaliste, pp. 163-67.

Kent, J.P.C. and K.S. Painter (ed.). 1977. Wealth of the Roman World. Gold and Silver AD 300-700, exh. cat. The Trustees of the British Museum, pp. 148-149, no. 311.

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Hibbard, Howard. 1980. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: Harper and Row, fig. 115, p. 63-64.

Harper, Prudence O. 1983. "Plate with Youths and Winged Horses." In The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Selections from the Collection of the Ancient Near East Department, exh. cat. Tokyo: Chunichi Shimbun, no. 90.

Harper, Prudence O. 2006. “Plat. Deux Jeunes Hommes aux Chevaux Ailés.” In Les Perses Sassanides: Fastes D’un Empire Oublié, 224-642, exh. cat. edited by Franҫoise Demange. Paris: Paris Musées, no. 37, p. 99.