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موضوع: THE MEDES

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    THE MEDES

    THE MEDES
    Duringthe second millennium B.C., successive Indo-European (Aryan) invadersbroke through into the Iranian plateau, either from the Caucasus, orthrough Central Asia. Those who settled in Iran were divided intotribes that were distinguished from each other by their differentdialects. The most famous of these tribes were the Persians (Pars), andthe Medes (Maad).

    The Persians eventually settled in theprovince of Fars and in the Bakhtiari Mountains, while the Medesoccupied the Hamedan plain. The Medes, were fierce warriors and skilledhorse breeders, and at first were organized as independent tribes;however, this changed under the tribal chief, Deioces. The Mediancapital was established at Ekbatan or "Place of Assembly", modernHamedan. Under the rule of Cyaxares (633-584 B.C.), the Medes put anend to centuries of war against the Assyrians. Their capture of Ninavain 612 B.C. finally brought down the Assyrian Empire. For more thanhalf a century after the fall of Ninava, the Medes ruled over a vastempire with borders stretching from Afghanistan to Turkey.
    [برای مشاهده لینک ها شما باید عضو سایت باشید برای عضویت در سایت بر روی اینجا کلیک بکنید]
    "A Medes King"
    TheMedes first appeared on the historical scene around the 9th century BC,when they were mentioned in contemporary Assyrian texts. They were anIndo-European tribe who, like the Persians had entered western Iran atsome earlier and as yet undetermined date. Very little of theirartistry has survived, apart from a few rock tombs, some funeraryrelieves and some pottery.

  2. #2
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    Re: THE MEDES

    THE ACHAEMENIANS


    ThePersians achieved unity under the leadership of Achaemenes, whosedescendant Cyrus brought the Achaemenian Empire onto the center stageof world history. Cyrus was the descendant of a long line of Persiankings and should be referred to as Cyrus II, having been named afterhis grandfather.


    According to the writings of Herodotus, thelast ruler of the Medes, Astyages (585 - 550 B.C.) was defeated andcaptured by Cyrus in 549 B.C.. In all probability Cyrus had the supportof the Babylonian sovereign Nabonidus. The Persian king overthrew theMedian empire and seized Ecbatana (Place of Assembly), which became hiscapital. He spared the defeated ruler, preferring not to indulge in themass killings, which until then had been a feature of Assyrianvictories. On the contrary he brought nobles and civilian officials,both Median and Persian, into the government of his kingdom.

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    "The Old Persian script" (Cuneiform Type)

    From546 B.C., Cyrus II applied himself to the task of attacking thepowerful kingdom of Lydia, where the famous Croesus ruled. There weretwo battles, then Cyrus besieged and captured Sardis before going on tosubdue the rich Greek cities. From this point onwards Cyrus was masterof all Asia Minor. He now turned his attention towards his easternfrontiers and conquered a string of provinces one after the other, evencrossing the Oxus in order to reach another river, the Jaxartes, whichflows into the Aral Sea. A number of fortresses were then built for thepurpose of keeping out the nomads of Central Asia.

    In 539 B.C.,the Persian sovereign assembled the bulk of his army and left hiscapital, Ecbatana, to follow the course of the Tigris down to Babylon,where he attacked Nabonidus. The city which had been capital ofMesopotamia for a thousand years offered little resistance, andwelcomed Cyrus as a liberator.

    As usual, Cyrus showedmagnanimity in victory. The respect he showed for the religions ofothers earned him the homage of all Babylonians; Syria and Phoeniciathus came under Achaemenian law. Cyrus the Great now held sway over allthe kingdoms of the Near and Middle East. In the space of less thantwenty years he had assembled the greatest empire the world had everseen. All he needed now was Egypt! However, soon after his son Cambyseshad been entrusted with making the preparations for such a campaign,Cyrus himself was killed in battle on the eastern frontier of hisempire.

    When Cyrus died in 530 B. C., the Achaemenian Empire waswell established. The sovereign had founded a new capital city atPasargad in Fars. Similarly, he had worked out the administration ofthe empire, appointing a governor, or satrap, to represent him in eachprovince. He imposed an annual tax in the form of a tribute on all theraces he conquered, to which the Achaemenian power owed much of itswealth and magnificence.

    Cyrus was succeeded by his son CambysesII (530-522 B.C.), After a victorious campaign against Egypt, heannexed the country to his father's empire, but during his absence thethrone was seized by the Magus Gaumata, and the King died mysteriously.However, Darius I (522-486 B.C.) ended this reign, when he proclaimedhimself the legitimate king. He then continued the work of Cyrus,creating 23 provinces, or satrapies, and building the administrativeand religious cities of Susa and Persepolis.
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    "Fluted Golden drinking horn (Rhyton)"
    Themagnificent palace complex of Persepolis was founded around 518 B.C.,although more than a century passed before it was completed.

    Throughhis military campaigns, Darius extended the frontiers of the empire; inthe east, around 512 B.C., he conquered Gandhara and the Indus Valley,while in the west, he attacked the Scythians, whom he never managed tosubdue, and then turned against Greece.

    While attempting to putdown a rebellion in Egypt in 490 B.C., Darius suffered a humiliatingdefeat at Marathon, near Athens. He died in 486 B.C. without renewinghis attack on Greece.

    After the death of Darius, the immenseempire established under the first Achaemenian rulers was threatened,as Persian authority could no longer contain the rebellions of thesatrapies.

    Xerxes (486-465 B.C.), the son of Darius, put downrevolts in Egypt and Babylonia with great severity and renewed thestruggle against Greece. He quickly subdued Thessaly and Macedonia,then captured Attica and Athens, which he burned down; however, in 480B.C. the Persian fleet was destroyed at Salamis.

    Discouraged,Xerxes returned to Persia, and never left again. Gradually, the immenseempire disintegrated; the Greek cities in Ionia, Egypt, then Pheoniciaand Syria broke away, followed by the regions to the west of theEuphrates. Artaxerxes III (358-338) made one last attempt to reunitethe empire, brutally taking back Egypt and quelling the revolt of thesatraps, but a new power was already emerging in West-Macedonia.

    Thelast Achaemenian ruler, Darius III (336 - 330 B.C.) was weak, and hiscowardice at two major campaigns, the first at Issus (333 B.C.) and theother at Gaugamela two years later surrendered the empire to Alexander.

    TheAchaemenian period may be said to begin in 549 BC when Cyrus the Greatdeposed the Median king Astyages. Cyrus (559-530 BC), the first greatPersian king, created an empire extending from Anatolia to the PersianGulf incorporating the former realms of both Assyria and Babylonia; andDarius the Great (522-486 BC), who succeeded him after variousdisturbances, extended the boundaries of the empire further still.

    Fragmentaryremains of Cyrus' Palace at Pasargad in Fars indicate that Cyrusfavored a monumental style of building. He incorporated decorationbased partly on Urartian, partly on the older Assyrian and Babylonianart, as he wished his empire to seem to be the rightful heir of Urartu,Assur, and Babylon.

    Pasargad covered an area almost 1.5 miles inlength and included palaces, a temple and the tomb of the king ofkings. Enormous winged bulls, which no longer survive flanked theentrance to the gate-house, but a stone relief on one of the door jamsis still preserved. It is adorned with a bas-relief representing afour-winged guardian spirit in a long garment of Elamite type, whosehead is surmounted by a complicated headdress of Egyptian origin. Inthe early 19th century an inscription over the figure could still beseen and deciphered: "I, Cyrus, king, the Achaemenian [have done this]."

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    "Persepolis"
    Thecentral hall in one of the palaces had bas-reliefs showing the kingfollowed by a pastoral bearer. Here for the first time on an Iraniansculpture appear garments with folds, in contrast to thestraight-falling robe of the four winged guardian spirit, executedaccording to the traditions of ancient oriental art, which did notallow the slightest movement or life. Achaemenian art here marks thefirst step in the exploration of a means of expression that was to bedeveloped by the artists of Persepolis.

    The rock cut tombs inPasargad, Naqsh-e Rustam, and elsewhere are a valuable source ofinformation about the architectural forms used in the Achaemenianperiod. The presence of Ionic capitols in one of the earliest of thesetombs suggests the serious possibility that this importantarchitectural form was introduced into Ionian Greece from Persia,contrary to what is commonly supposed.

    Under Darius, theAchaemenian Empire embraced Egypt and Libya in the west and extended tothe river Indus in the east. During his rule, Pasargad was relegated toa secondary role and the new ruler quickly began to build otherpalaces, first at Susa and then at Persepolis.

    Susa was the mostimportant administrative center in Darius' Empire, its geographicallocation halfway between Babylon and Pasargad was very favorable. Thepalace structure built at Susa was based on a Babylonian principle,with three large interior courts, around which were reception andliving rooms. In the palace courtyard panels of polychrome glazedbricks decorated the walls. These included a pair of wingedhuman-headed lions beneath a winged disk, and the so-called"Immortals". The craftsmen who made and arranged these bricks came fromBabylon, where there was a tradition for this sort of architecturaldecoration.

    Although Darius constructed a number of buildings atSusa, he is better known for his work at Persepolis (the palace atPersepolis built by Darius and completed by Xerxes), 30-km south-westof Pasargad.

    The decoration includes the use of carved wallslabs representing the endless processions of courtiers, guards, andtributary nations from all parts of the Persian Empire. Sculptorsworking in teams carved these relieves, and each team signed its workwith a distinctive mason's mark.

    These relieves are executed ina dry and almost coldly formal, though neat and elegant, style whichwas henceforth characteristic of Achaemenian art and contrasts with themovement and zest of Assyrian and neo-Babylonian art. This art wassupposed to capture the spectator by its symbolism, and convey a senseof grandeur; artistic values were therefore relegated to second place.
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    "Persian King and Queen"

    Theking is the dominant figure in the sculpture at Persepolis, and itseems that the whole purpose of the decorative scheme was to glorifythe king, his majesty and his power.

    Here, also we can see thatthe Persepolis sculptures differ from the Assyrian reliefs, which areessentially narrative and aim to illustrate the achievements of theking. The similarities are such, though, that it is obvious much of theinspiration for this sort of relief must have come from Assyria. Greek,Egyptian, Urartian, Babylonian, Elamite and Scythian influences canalso been seen in Achaemenian art. This is perhaps not surprising, inview of the wide range of people employed in the construction ofPersepolis.
    Achaemenian art, however, was also capable ofinfluencing that of others and its impress is most noticeable in theearly art of India, with which it probably came into contact throughBactria.

    The realism of Achaemenian art manifests its power inthe representation of animals, as can be seen in the many relieves atPersepolis. Carved in stone or cast in bronze, the animals served asguardians to the entrances or, more often as supports for vases, inwhich they were grouped by threes, their union a revival of the oldtraditions of tripods with legs ending in a hoof or a lion's paw. TheAchaemenian artists were worthy descendants of the animal sculptors ofLuristan.

    Silver-work, glazing, goldsmiths' work, bronzecasting, and inlay work are all well represented in Achaemenian art.The Oxus treasure, a collection of 170 items of gold and silver foundby the Oxus river date from the 5th to the 4th century BC. Among thebest-known piece is a pair of gold armlets with terminals in the shapeof horned griffins, originally inlaid with glass and coloured stones.

    Achaemenianart is a logical continuation of what preceded it, culminating in thesuperb technical skill and unprecedented splendour so evident atPersepolis. The art of the Achaemenians is deeply rooted in the erawhen the first Iranians arrived on the plateau, and its wealth hasaccumulated throughout the centuries to constitute at last, thesplendid realisation of Iranian art today.


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  3. #3
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    Re: THE MEDES

    THE GREEKS
    Theconquest of Persia by Alexander's armies left the Persian army incomplete disarray. Alexander captured Babylon, Susa and thenPersepolis. The splendour of Persepolis was short lived, as the palaceswere looted and burned by Alexander in just one night.

    TheGreeks were then in possession of the ancient world from Egypt toIndus, and from Oxus to the Danube. Alexander followed a policy ofintegration between the Greeks and the Persian communities, encouragingmarriages and applying the formula of magnanimity and generosity, whichhad formerly brought success to Cyrus.

    In 324 B.C., havingtraveled down the Indus as far as its delta, he returned to Babylonwhere he fell ill and died in 323 B.C., at the age of 32, withouthaving nominated an heir to his empire.

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    "The Gates - Persepolis"

    Thosewho succeeded him, were the so-called Diadochi, who fought amongthemselves and after the battle of Ipsus (301 B.C.), Alexander's Empirewas finally divided into three main segments. The Ptolemaic Dynastyruling Egypt, the Macedonian monarchy ruling Europe and Seleucus Iruling the east including; Mesopotamia, Iran, Syria and Bactria.
    The Hellenistic period in Iran began in 331 B.C. and continued until c. 250 B.C.

    Thiswas the time when the Greeks tried to impose their culture on Asia.During approximately a century and a half of Greek rule in Iran, verylittle construction took place, and ruins from this period remain fewand far between.




    The Seleucids


    TheSeleucid capital was founded at "Antiochus" by Seleucus I. His sonAntiochus, by an Iranian noblewoman, was put in charge of the easternprovinces.

    The main difficulty that the Seleucid rulers facedwas how to maintain the unity of an empire composed of a mosaic ofdifferent cultures and ethnic groups, and governed byindependent-minded satraps. A new menace was added to this, that of theParthians, a nomad people of Iranian origin who had settled in theregion between the Caspian and Aral seas. In 250 B.C., Bactriaproclaimed its independence, followed shortly afterwards by Parthia.

    AntiochosIII (223-187 B.C.) attempted to keep the empire together but in 189B.C., the Roman army won a decisive victory against the Seleucids atthe battle of Magnesia. Antiochos IV (175-164 B.C.) restored hisposition in western Iran, but failed to recoup Seleucid losses in theeast.

    The Seleucids tried on several occasions to force out theParthians who had moved into northern Iran. However, the attempts ofDemetrius I in 156 B.C., of Demetrius II in 141 to 140 B.C., and ofSeleucus VII in 130 B.C. all failed.

    After Alexander conqueredthe Persian Empire (331 BC), Iranian art underwent a revolution. Greeksand Iranians lived together in the same city, where mixed marriagesbecame commonplace. Two profoundly different concepts of life andbeauty thus came into confrontation with each other. On the one handall interest focused on modeling the plasticity of the body and itsgestures; while on the other, there was nothing but dryness andseverity, a linear vision, rigidness, and frontality. Greco-Iranian artwas the logical product of this encounter.

    The victors,represented by the Seleucid dynasty of Macedonian origin, replaced theold Oriental art by Hellenistic forms in which space and perspective,gesture, drapery and other devices were used to suggest movement orvarious emotions, however, some Oriental features still remained
    .

  4. #4
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    Re: THE MEDES

    THE PARTHIAN EMPIRE

    In250 BC a new Iranian people, the Parthians, proclaimed theirindependence from the Seleucids, and went on to re-establish anOriental Empire which extended to the Euphrates.
    Under Mithridates I(171-138 B.C.), the Parthians continued their conquests and annexedMedia, Fars, Babylonia and Assyria, creating an empire that extendedfrom the Euphrates to Herat in Afghanistan. This in effect was arestoration of the ancient Achaemenian Empire of Cyrus the Great.
    Inaddition to the nomads that were a constant menace on its easternfrontier the Parthians also had to face another powerful adversary,Rome. For almost three centuries, Rome and Parthia were to battle overSyria, Mesopotamia and Armenia, without ever achieving any lastingresults.
    The Parthian kings referred to themselves on their coins as"Hellenophiles", but this was only true in the sense that they wereanti-Roman. In reality the Parthians sought to establish themselves asthe direct heirs of the Achaemenian Empire, and Mithridates II (123-87B.C.) was the first Parthian ruler to use the old Achaemenian title"King of Kings" on his coins.
    The re-conquest of the country by theParthians brought a slow return to Iranian traditionalism. Itstechnique marked the disappearance of the plastic form. Stiff figures,often heavily bejeweled, wearing Iranian dress with its draperyemphasized mechanically and monotonously, were now shown systematicallyfacing to the front, staring straight at the spectator. This was adevice used in ancient Mesopotamian art only for figures of exceptionalimportance. The Parthians however, made it the rule for most figures,and from them it passed into Byzantine art. A fine bronze portraitstatue (from Shami) and some relieves (at Tang-i-Sarwak and Bisutun)highlight these features.
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    "Persepolis"

    Duringthe Parthian period the iwan became a widespread architectural form.This was a great hall, open on one side with a high barrel-vaultedroof. Particularly fine examples have been found at Ashur and Hatra. Inthe construction of these grandiose halls, fast setting gypsum mortarwas used.

    Perhaps allied to the increasing use of gypsum mortarwas the development of gypsum stucco decoration. Iran was unfamiliarwith stucco decoration before the Parthians, among whom it was in voguefor interior decoration together with mural painting. The mural atDura-Europos, on the Euphrates, represents Mithras hunting a variety ofanimals.

    In the Zagros area of western Iran many examples ofParthian 'clinky' ware, a hard red pottery which makes a clinky noisewhen tapped, can be found. Glazed pottery with a pleasing bluish orgreenish lead glaze, painted on shapes of Hellenistic inspiration, arealso frequently found.

    Ornate jewelry with large inlaid stones or glass gems made its appearance during this period.
    Unfortunately,practically nothing that the Parthians may have written has survived,apart from some inscriptions on coins and accounts from Greek and Latinauthors; however these accounts were far from objective.
    Parthiancoins are helpful in establishing the succession of kings, theyreferred to themselves on these coins as "Hellenophiles", but this wasonly true in that they were anti Roman.
    The Parthian period was thestart of a renewal in the Iranian national spirit. Their art forms animportant transitional stepping-stone; which led on the one hand to theart of Byzantium, and on the other to that of the Sassanians, and India.



    _________________

  5. #5
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    Re: THE MEDES

    THE SASSANIANS

    InA.D. 224 Ardeshir, a descendant of Sassan and ruler of Fars and Kerman,rebelled against the Parthian king, Artabanus V, and established theSassanian dynasty.
    Within twenty years, Ardeshir I (224-241) created a vast empire that stretched as far as the Indus.
    Hisson Shapur I (241-272) continued this expansion, conquering Bactria,and Kushan, while leading several campaigns against Rome. In 259, thePersian army defeated the Roman emperor Valerian at the battle ofEdessa and more than 70,000 Roman soldiers were captured.
    For nearlyfour centuries, foreign wars and internal struggles gradually exhaustedthe Sassanian Empire and a new enemy, the Hephtalite Huns, defeatedthem. It was not until the reign of Khosroe I (531-579), one of thegreatest Sassanian rulers, that the Huns were beaten.
    Khosroe tookAntioch in 540 A.D., while Khosroe II, who had rebuilt the empire untilit rivaled that of the Archaemenians, laid siege to Byzantium in 626A.D.. However, the dynamic emperor Heraclius turned the tables, withthe Byzantines invading Iran in 628. Khosroe II was deposed andmurdered by his followers. After his death, over a period of 14 yearsand twelve successive kings, the Sassanian Empire weakenedconsiderably, and the power of the central authority passed into thehands of the generals. This paved the way for the first Arab attacks in633 A.D.

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    "Silver Gilt Dish"
    Inmany ways the Sassanian period (AD 224-633) witnessed the highestachievement of Persian civilization, and constituted the last greatIranian Empire before the Moslem conquest.
    The Sassanian Dynasty,like the Achaemenian, originated in the province of Fars. They sawthemselves as successors to the Achaemenians, after the Hellenistic andParthian interlude, and perceived it as their role to restore thegreatness of Iran.
    At its peak, the Sassanian Empire stretched fromSyria to north-west India; but its influence was felt far beyond thesepolitical boundaries. Sassanian motifs found their way into the art ofcentral Asia and China, the Byzantine Empire, and even MerovingianFrance.

    In reviving, the glories of the Achaemenian past, theSassanians were no mere imitators. The art of this period reveals anastonishing virility. In certain respects it anticipates features laterdeveloped during the Islamic period. The conquest of Persia byAlexander had inaugurated the spread of Hellenistic art into WesternAsia; but if the East accepted the outward form of this art, it neverreally assimilated its spirit. Already in the Parthian periodHellenistic art was being interpreted freely by the peoples of the NearEast and throughout the Sassanian period there was a continuing processof reaction against it. Sassanian art revived forms and traditionsnative to Persia; and in the Islamic period these reached the shores ofthe Mediterranean.
    The splendor in which the Sassanian monarchslived is well illustrated by their surviving palaces, such as those atFiruzabad and Bishapur in Fars, and the capital city of Ctesiphon inMesopotamia. In addition to local traditions, Parthian architecturemust have been responsible for a great many of the Sassanianarchitectural characteristics. All are characterised by thebarrel-vaulted iwans introduced in the Parthian period, but now theyreached massive proportions, particularly at Ctesiphon. The arch of thegreat vaulted hall at Ctesiphon attributed to the reign of Shapur I (AD241-272) has a span of more than 80 ft, and reaches a height of 118 ft.from the ground. This magnificent structure facinated architects in thecenturies that followed and has always been considered as one of themost important pieces of Persian architecture. Many of the palacescontain an inner audience hall which consists, as at Firuzabad, of achamber surmounted by a dome. The Persians solved the problem ofconstructing a circular dome on a square building by the squinch. Thisis an arch built across each corner of the square, thereby convertingit into an octagon on which it is simple to place the dome. The domechamber in the palace of Firuzabad is the earliest surviving example ofthe use of the squinch and so there is good reason for regarding Persiaas its place of invention.

    The unique characteristic ofSassanian architecture, was its distinctive use of space. The Sassanianarchitect conceived his building in terms of masses and surfaces; hencethe use of massive walls of brick decorated with molded or carvedstucco. Stucco wall decorations appear at Bishapur, but better examplesare preserved from Chal Tarkhan near Rayy (late Sassanian or earlyIslamic in date), and from Ctesiphon and Kish in Mesopotamia. Thepanels show animal figures set in roundels, human busts, and geometricand floral motifs.
    At Bishapur some of the floors were decoratedwith mosaics showing scenes of merrymaking as at a banquet; the Romaninfluence here is clear, and the mosaics may have been laid by Romanprisoners. Buildings were also decorated with wall paintings;particularly fine examples have been found at Kuh-i Khwaja in Sistan.

    Sassaniansculpture affords an equally striking contrast to that of Greece andRome. Some thirty rock sculptures survive, most of them located inFars. Like those of the Achaemenian period they are carved in relief,often on remote and inaccessible rocks. Some are so deeply undercut asto be virtually freestanding; others are hardly more than graffiti.Their purpose is the glorification of the monarch.
    The earliestknown Sassanian rock carvings are those at Firuzabad, attributed to thebeginning of Ardashir I's reign and still bound to the conventions ofParthian art. The relief itself is very low, the details are renderedby means of fine incisions, and the forms are heavy and massive, butnot without a certain vigor. One relief, carved on a rock wall at theTang-i-Ab gorge near the Firuzabad plain, consists of three separatedueling scenes that express vividly the Iranian concept of battle as aseries of individual engagements.

    Many depict the investiture ofthe king by the god "Ahuramazda" with the emblems of sovereignty;others the triumph of the king over his enemies. They may have beeninspired by Roman triumphal works, but the manner of treatment andpresentation is very different. Roman relieves are pictorial recordsalways with an attempt at realism. The Sassanian sculptures commemoratean event by depicting symbolically the culminating incident: forinstance in the sculpture at Naksh-i-Rustam (3rd c.) the Roman emperorValerian hands over his arms to the victor Shapur I. Divine and royalpersonages are portrayed on a scale larger than that of inferiorpersons. Compositions are as a rule symmetrical. Human figures tend tobe stiff and heavy and there is an awkwardness in the rendering ofcertain anatomical details such as the shoulders and torso.
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    "Silver Dish"
    Reliefsculpture reached its zenith under Bahram I (273-76), the son of ShapurI, who was responsible for a fine ceremonial scene at Bishapur, inwhich the forms have lost all stiffness and the workmanship is bothelaborate and vigorous.

    Considering the entire collection ofSassanian rock sculptures, a certain stylistic rise and decline becomesapparent; from the flat forms of the early relieves founded onParathian tradition, the art turned to the more sophisticated and -owing to Western influence - more rounded forms then appeared duringthe period of Sapphire I, culminating in the dramatic ceremonial sceneof Bahrain I at Bishapur, then retrogressing to uninspired and triteforms under Narsah, and finally returning to the non-classical styleevident in the relieves of Khosroe II.
    There is no attempt atportraiture in Sassanian art, either in these sculptures or in theroyal figures depicted on metal vessels or on their coins. Each emperoris distinguished merely by his own particular form of crown.
    In theminor arts, unfortunately no paintings have survived, and the Sassanianperiod is best represented by its metal-work. A large number of metalvessels have been attributed to this period; many of these have beenfound in southern Russia. They have a variety of forms and reveal ahigh standard of technical skill with decoration executed either byhammering, beating, engraving or casting. The subjects most oftenportrayed on silver dishes included royal hunts, ceremonial scenes, theking enthroned or banqueting, dancers, and scenes of a religiouscharacter.

    Vessels were decorated with designs executed inseveral techniques; parcel gilding, chasing or engraving, and cloisonnéenameling. Motifs include religious figures, hunting scenes in whichthe king has the central place, and mythical animals like the wingedgriffin. These same designs occur in Sassanian textiles. Silk weavingwas introduced into Persia by the Sassanian kings and Persian silkweaves even found a market in Europe.

    Few Sassanian textiles areknown today, apart from small fragments that have come from variousEuropean Abbeys and Cathedrals. Of the magnificent, heavily embroideredroyal fabrics, studded with pearls and precious stones, nothing hassurvived; they are known only through various literary references andthe ceremonial scene at the Taq-i-Bustan, in which Khosroe II isdressed in an imperial cloak that resembles the one described inlegend, woven in gold thread and studded with pearls and rubies.

    Thesame is true for the famous garden carpet, the "Spring time ofKhosroe". Made during the reign of Khosroe I (531 - 579) the carpet was90 ft. square. The Arab historians' description is as follows: "Theborder was a magnificent flower bed of blue, red, white, yellow andgreen stones; in the background the colour of the earth was imitatedwith gold; clear stones like crystals gave the illusion of water; theplants were in silk and the fruits were formed by colour stones"However, the Arabs cut this magnificent carpet into many pieces, whichwere then sold separately.
    Perhaps the most distinctive feature ofSassanian art is its ornament, which was destined to have a profoundinfluence on Islamic art. Designs tended to be symmetrical and much usewas made of enclosing medallions. Animals and 'birds and even floralmotifs were frequently presented 'heraldically', that is in pairs,either confronted or back to back. Some motifs, such as the Tree ofLife, have an ancient history in the Near East; others, like the dragonand winged horse, reveal the constant love affair of Asiatic art withthe mythical.
    Sassanian art was carried over an immense territorystretching from the Far East to the shores of the Atlantic and played aforemost role in the formation of both European and Asiatic medievalart. Islamic art however, was the true heir to Sassanian art, whoseconcepts it was to assimilate while, at the same time instilling freshlife and renewed vigor into it.




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