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: Spouted vessel with gazelle protome

Spouted vessel with gazelle protome

Spouted vessel
Historical period(s)
Sasanian period, 4th century
Silver and gilt
H x W x D: 15.5 x 25.4 x 14.1 cm (6 1/8 x 10 x 5 9/16 in)
Iran or Afghanistan
Credit Line
Gift of Arthur M. Sackler
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
Vessels made entirely or in part in the shape of an animal, in both metal and ceramic versions, have a long history in ancient Iran. Only a few examples of this vessel type, however, have surfaced among artifacts of the Sasanian period (ca. 224–651). Chiefly influenced by Roman and Byzantine prototypes and to some extent by Central Asian styles, Sasanian silver plate seldom drew on traditional Iranian vessel forms. Horned animals, such as the ram and this gazelle, appear as quarry on some of the Sasanian silver and gilt plates depicting a royal hunt. With its animal-shaped protome (forepart) joined to a compact horn and furnished with a spout through the animal's mouth, this is an extremely rare example dating from the Sasanian period. This type of vessel embodies an important image and concept: a special liquid, probably wine, was contained in and dispensed from the mouth of an animal that itself held powerful, royal connotations.

To at least 1966
Farhadi and Anavian Co., New York. [1]

From at least 1978 to 1987
Arthur M. Sackler (1913-1987), New York, purchased sometime between 1966 and 1978. [2]

From 1987
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, gift of Arthur M. Sackler, New York. [3]


[1] At the time of the publication of Dorothy Shepherd’s article on the rhyton, the piece was in the collection of Farhadi and Anavian, New York. See Dorothy Shepherd, “Two Silver Rhyta,” Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, 53 (1966), 300 fig. 11. See also notes from the object file, Collections Management Office.

[2] By 1978 when this rhyton was published in Prudence O. Harper, The Royal Hunter: Art of the Sasanian Empire (New York, 1978) 36-38, no. 5, Harper wrote it was in Dr. Arthur M. Sackler’s collection. Sometime between 1966 and 1978 the object was purchased by Arthur M. Sackler. See also note 1.

[3] Pursuant to the agreement between Arthur M. Sackler and the Smithsonian Institution, dated July 28, 1982, legal title of the donated objects was transferred to the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery on September 11, 1987.

Former owner
Farhadi and Anavian Co.
Dr. Arthur M. Sackler (1913-1987)
On View Location
Currently not on view
Metalwork, Vessel
Afghanistan, bull, chasing, gazelle, gilding, Iran, lion, repousse, Sasanian period (ca. 224 - 651), WWII-era provenance
Collection(s) Area
Ancient Near Eastern Art
Web Resource(s)
Google Cultural Institute

Rights Statement
Copyright with museum

The Freer|Sackler is closed for renovation and reinstallation. The popular exhibition Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan is still on view in the International Gallery. (Enter through the Ripley Center.) Join us for our reopening celebration on October 14–15, 2017.