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Home > Auctions > 7th September 2021 > Parthian Amphora-Shaped Figural Rhyton

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LOT 0040

GBP (£) 8,000 - 10,000
EUR (€) 9,400 - 11,750
USD ($) 11,150 - 13,940

Opening Bid
£7,200 (EUR 8,462; USD 10,034) (+bp*)

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Parthian Amphora-Shaped Figural Rhyton

2nd century AD

A turquoise-glazed rhyton formed as a conical amphora with a cylindrical neck flanked by twisted zoocephalic handles; the curved based formed as a head of an ibex with pierced muzzle; above a facing female head with curled swelling hair, wearing a crown and a collar; a moulded medallion above the head representing a character reclining on a bed and resting against a cushion, wearing a sleeved tunic and trousers; mounted on a custom-made display stand. 2.1 kg total, 37cm high including stand (14 1/2"). Fine condition.

Previously with Arts d'Orient, Boisgirard, Paris, France, 27 May 2011, lot 7; formerly part of a private collection, Israel, since 1982; accompanied by a copy of the relevant Arts d'Orient catalogue pages and by an academic expertise by Dr. Raffaele D’Amato; this lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by AIAD certificate number no.10805-178701.

See Pope, A.U., A survey of Persian Art, New York, 1938, vol. IV, Pl.185 A-D; Ghirsman, R., Partes et Sassanides, Paris, 1962, no.132 (A), Rhython in the British Museum; Harper, P.O., The Royal Hunter, Art of the Sassanian Empire, New York, 1978, pp.162-164; Pfrommer, M., Metalwork from the Hellenized East, Catalogue of the Collections, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, 1993; Various, Splendeur des Sassanides, Catalogue d’exposition, Bruxelles, 1993, no.104; Curtis, J., Mesopotamia and Iran in the Parthian and Sasanian Periods, Rejection and Revival c.238 BC – AD 642, London, 2000; Carter, M.L., Goldstein, S., Harper, P.O., Kawami, T.S., Meyers, P., Splendors of the Ancient East, Antiquities from the al-Sabah collection, London, 2013; Ebbinghaus, S., Feasting with gods, heroes, and kings, Cambridge, 2019.

The vessel belongs to the category of rhyta, horn-shaped vessels used for drinking wine. The word rhyta comes from the Greek word ‘to flow’, and vessels of this type were well-known in ancient Western Asia. The Parthians mainly used rhyta with the foreparts shaped like jumping lynxes (Pfrommer, 1993, pp.47-49, 186-187, no.171), caracal cats (Carter, Goldstein, Harper, Kawami, Meyers, 2013, no.69) or lions (Pfrommer, 1993, pp.47-48,178-179, n. 66, pl.4), but also vessels with the protomes of stags, bulls and horses, although these are rarer. The rhyta were used in a wide range of cults and ceremonies, including rituals of investiture or the transfer of the royal power. Although filled with Iranian motifs, the artwork of our rhyton is characteristic of the continuance of the Hellenistic tradition in the arts of Parthian Iran.