Plate: the king Yazdgard I, slaying a stag

ca. A.D. 399–420
Silver, mercury gilding
Plate: Diam. 23.3-23.4
H. 3.3
Thickness at rim: 0.24-0.29
Foot: Diam. 7.6-7.7
H. 1.1
Thickness: 0.22-0.26
Weight: 713 gm
Credit Line:
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1970
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 405
The king as hunter became a standard image on silver plates during the reign of Shapur II (r. 310–379). The motif symbolizes the prowess of Sasanian rulers, and these royal plates were often sent as gifts to neighboring and vassal courts. The scene on this example is striking: the king is depicted standing and slaying a rearing stag, whose protruding tongue indicates that he is either dying or already dead. The king is identifiable as Yazdgard I (r. 399-420) due to his crown, although it is topped with a striated globe rather than the cloth-covered one with which he is normally represented. His beaded skirt resembles those shown on the rock reliefs of Shapur II (r. 310-379), Shapur III (r. 383-388) and Ardashir II (r. 379-383) at Taq-i Bustan, Iran. The crescent-tipped spear with a counterweight in the form of a human fist is unique amongst weapons represented on Sasanian silver plates.

Sasanian silver plates were usually hammered into shape and then decorated using a variety of complex techniques. On this example, gilding covers the entire design except for the king’s face and hands, and pieces of metal were added to create high relief in several areas. The inscription on the foot is too damaged to be legible, but most likely mentions the king’s name and the plate’s weight.
By 1967, with Parviz Rabenou, New York; acquired by the Museum in 1970, purchased from K. Rabenou, Inc., New York.

“Sasanian Silver: Late Antique and Early Medieval Arts of Luxury from Iran.” The University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, August 1967–September 1967.

“Patterns of Collecting: Selected Acquisitions 1965-1975.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, December 6, 1975–March 23, 1976.

“Weihrauch und Seide: Alte Kulturen an der Seidenstraße.” Palais Harrach, Vienna, January 21, 1996–April 14, 1996.

“Les Perses Sassanides: Fastes D’Un Empire Oublié, 224-642,” Musée Cernuschi, Paris, September 15, 2006–December 30, 2006.

“Glass, Gilding, and Grand Design: Art of Sasanian Iran (224-642),” Asia Society, New York, February 14, 2007–May 20, 2007.

Grabar, Oleg. 1967. "An Introduction to the Art of Sasanian Sillver." In Sasanian Silver: Late Antique and Early Medieval Arts of Luxury From Iran, exh. cat. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Museum of Art, pp. 77, 98, no. 10.

Brunner, Christopher J. 1974. "Middle Persian Inscriptions on Sasanian Silverware." Metropolitan Museum Journal 9, p. 116, fig. 4.

Hoving, Thomas and Olga Raggio. 1975. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1965-1975, p. 38.

Harper, Prudence O. and Pieter Meyers. 1981. Silver Vessels of the Sasanian Period, Volume 1:Royal Imagery. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 217, pl. 16.

Overlaet, Bruno J. 1989. "Swords of the Sasanians, Notes on Scabbard Tips." In Archaeologia Iranica et Orientalis. Miscellanea in Honorem Louis
Vanden Berghe, edited by L. De Meyer and E. Haerinck, Vol. II. Gent: Peeters, p. 743, fig. 4c.

Seipel, Wilfried. 1996. Weihrauch und Seide: Alte Kulturen an der Seidenstraße, exh. cat. Vienna: Kunsthistorisches Museum, pp. 236-237, no. 83.

Harper, Prudence O. 2006. “Plat. Yazdgard Ier (399-421) Tuant Un Cerf.” In Les Perses Sassanides: Fastes D’un Empire Oublié, 224-642, exh. cat. edited by Franҫoise Demange. Paris: Paris Musées, no. 28, pp. 86-89.

Harper, Prudence Oliver. 2007. “Plate: The King Yazdegerd I, Slaying a Stag.” In Glass, Gilding & Grand Design: Art of Sasanian Iran (224-642), exh. cat. edited by Francoise Demange. New York: Asia Society, no. 3, p. 37.