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Lot 1463





Estimate: 20'000 GBP   |   Starting price: 20'000 GBP Price realized: 90'000 GBP
Western Asiatic Sassanian Hemispherical Bowl with Dancers
5th-7th century AD. A silver hemispherical bowl with parcel-gilt surface, with repoussé frieze of four dancing girls, a pipe-player and a lute-player amid foliage with fruit and perched birds; central image of a boar with wings to the shoulders. 1.5 kg, 28cm (11"). From the collection of Persian businessman Habib Sabet; acquired 1970s-1980s; thence by descent 1990. Supplied with a positive X-Ray Fluorescence metal analysis certificate. See Godard, A. The Art of Iran London, 1965, p 214-215, ill.120 and 121, for a bottle with repoussé decoration now in the National Museum, Tehran, depicting the same Bacchic imagery and similar mythical animal at the base. See the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for a parcel-gilt ewer decorated with similar figures, accession number 67.10a,b. See the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for boar decoration, accession number M.76.174.271. Accompanied by an Art Loss Register certificate. Habib Sabet was an industrialist and art collector who was born in Tehran in 1903. He is noted for founding many businesses in his native country and was also involved in banking and television. In 1974 he moved to Paris where he lived for many years; with the fall of the Shah in Iran his sons took over the running of his businesses. Habib Sabet spoke six languages and was raised in the Bahai faith in which he became an important figure and spokesperson. He was a noted philanthropist as well as a prolific collector of art and antiques where he concentrated on Sassanian and Achaemenid objects that illustrated the courtly life of the times. He died in Los Angeles in 1990 at the age of 86. The decoration on this bowl, which depicts a Bacchic festival, is similar to examples on vessels now to be found at the National museum, Tehran, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, Russia. The figures on all of these vessels are of women surrounded by vine leaves and grapes and with birds and animals; the figures evoke imagery of Bacchic festivals that were popular in the Roman Empire and which even spread as far as India as an art subject. These bowls and jugs are thought to be connected to harvest rituals when the first grapes had been pressed and so the imagery of Bacchic subjects would have fitted in well with the role of Bacchus as god of wine. Also, this close iconographic connection probably indicates an assimilation of his cult into the Iranian fertility cult related to Anahita, the ancient Iranian goddess of love and water. The mythical animal on the base, which is a combination of boar and simurgh, is a signature design of the Sassanid Empire. In Greek mythology, the winged boar was connected to Chrysaor, brother of Pegasus, and his image can be found on several types of coins. The mixture of classical and Iranian subjects on these vessels is possibly the result of them being produced in areas that came under the influence of the two cultures, such as the Black Sea region. Very fine condition.
Estimate: £ 20,000 - 30,000

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