Freer Gallery of Art Arthur M Sackler Gallery Gallery Guide Arts of the Islamic World
Sasanian silver also stimulated the production of precious metal and ceramic luxury arts in Tang dynasty China. Silver vessels made in the Sasanian Empire and locally crafted versions have been found in the tombs of wealthy individuals in northwestern China. In some cases, artisans may have traveled along with traders or in search of employment, and in so doing, they brought their craft traditions and styles with them. New fashions in metalwork encouraged artisans in China to develop their own industry in gold and silver vessels, introducing foreign shapes, subjects, ornament, and techniques. Metalsmiths often combined local and foreign forms on a single object. On the back of a Tang dynasty mirror, a separate sheet of silver is decorated with traditional Chinese creatures—a winged horse, a dragon, and two phoenixes—set among floral scrolls formed from peony blossoms. This style of ornament, consisting of floral scrolls inhabited by animals or human figures, was created centuries earlier in the Mediterranean world and traveled east along with other forms of ornament.

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