Plate with youths and winged horses
Not on view
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.