Plate: the king Yazdgard I, slaying a stag


Not on view

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.

Plate: the king Yazdgard I, slaying a stag, Silver, mercury gilding, Sasanian

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