Rhyton with female head

Parthian or Sasanian

Not on view

This vessel belongs to a rare class of glazed ceramic rhytons with female heads and animal-shaped spouts. The upper part is in the form of a vase with one handle (now lost). It appears as a tall bulbous crown above the head (made from two half-molds), which displays puffy cheeks, thickly lined eyes and brows, and small lips. The richly patterned "melon" coiffure is embellished by a diadem of wheat stalks with a band that includes a palmette, a crescent and star, and a rosette. Below a necklace the vessel tapers into a bull's head with a pouring hole at the mouth. The diadem motifs may identify the head as that of the goddess Nana, daughter of the moon god and sister of the sun god. This nature and astral deity, although first seen in Mesopotamian texts – she is referred to in texts from Esagila, the Temple of Marduk in Babylon, as "the power over princes and the scepter of kings" – but may have been Iranian in origin. She was represented in Parthian and Kushan art and widely worshiped in Mesopotamia, Iran, and Central Asia.

Rhyton with female head, Ceramic, glazed, Parthian or Sasanian

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