Freer Gallery of Art Arthur M Sackler Gallery Gallery Guide Arts of the Islamic World
Initially, Sasanian precious metalwork primarily served as royal propaganda. Court artisans fashioned silver into works of art embellished with royal images, which the king gave as gifts to high-ranking officials and heads of state. Later, when silver supplies were no longer reserved for royal use, artisans created opulent vessels for the Sasanian nobility to use in dining and banqueting. A silver ewer used to pour wine, probably made in Iran and inscribed by its Iranian owner, combines a shape that was also popular in the Roman and Byzantine Empires with images of dancing females, who may personify a Zoroastrian concept of the soul.

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