The Shapur Plate: From Sasanian Iran to the Freer Gallery of Art
Exchanging gifts was an ancient royal practice, one meant to establish good relationships between neighbors and to maintain control over vassal states. Silver vessels with images of kings or royal hunting scenes were often sent to regional princes or neighboring rulers as diplomatic gifts. Such objects have been found in Central Asian paintings, in European treasuries, and in recently excavated tombs in China. In return, the Sasanians received luxury goods as gifts and trade items, and in the process they created a complex network of artistic and diplomatic exchange.