Oval bowl with grapevine scrolls inhabited by birds and animals

ca. 6th–7th century A.D.
Silver, mercury gilding
2.76 x 4.37 x 9.17 in. (7.01 x 11.1 x 23.29 cm)
Credit Line:
Fletcher Fund, 1959
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 405
This oval bowl, made from a single piece of hammered silver, is an example of one of the new vessel forms popular during the second half of the Sasanian period (A.D. 224-651): the shape is typical for wine drinking and most likely derives from Chinese prototypes. The background of the bowl’s exterior was carved out and then gilded, leaving the silver decoration in high relief. Tendrils of vine scrolls, one of the most popular motifs in Sasanian art, are arranged symmetrically along with grape clusters, lotus palmettes, birds and animals. The bearded dancing figure in the center most likely represents Silenos, leader of the satyrs, who along with the grapes and vines, attests to the continuing popularity of imagery associated with the Greek god Dionysos. The cup’s interior features a bird (probably a cock) holding a leaf in its beak, surrounded by bosses created by punching from the exterior surface.
Acquired by the Museum in 1959, purchased from Khalil Rabenou, New York.

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