Сасанидские геммы - Борисов А.Я.
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The stone engraving typical for these local districts (in particular for the Central Asia and Caucasus) is at present well known due to the excavations and represented by seals with iconography of images and with subjects differing from those in the Sassanian intaglios 2.
The first acquaintance with the Sassanian seals produces an impression of multiplicity of effigies and compositins. However a careful analysis gives evidence of a very limited range oi subjects 3 in the Sassanian glyptics. It is of an extreme interest that all types of compositions in the Sassanian seals are identical to those found in reliefs, toreutics, stuccoes, tissues and other objects of the Sassanian art 4. Hence the question of canons and symbolics in this art may be raised.
Ast'ie principal aim of the present Catalogue Raisonne is a systematization and dating of f‘ie Sassanian seals, the problems concerning the development or origin of iconographic images are beyond the scope of the present work. As a characteristic feature of the Sassanian
1 N. Debevoice. Parthian Seals, SPA, vol. I, pp. 471—474: E. llerzfcld. Die laleroi von Samarra. Berlin, 1927, S. 19, 52, Fig. 4.
For detailed references see pp. 23—30.
List of subjects and images on the Sassanian seals see pp. 2J0—221.
For multiple analogies see pp. 31—35.
art the author considers a relatively limited range of subjects, their constant recurrence in various art ob jests, and still more limited choice of images and their faithful repetition. Apparently the «richness» of themes in the Sassanian art may he confined to a score or two of compositions engraved on several thousand seals.
The Iranian art of the Sassanian period known to us, is the art of the shah’s court and temple, serving the aristocracy or those strata of population which used in their everyday life cheap copies of specimens of «high art». Consequently, the ahove-mentioned canonization of images testifies to an enormous role of the state and church in the development of this art. Perhaps here is a clue to the understanding the reasons of the rapid appearance and wide spread of the «Sassanian style».
Though some special works on the symbolics of images in the Sassanian intaglios have been published L, one can hardly have a correct judgement on the symbolical meaning of many images, owing to scanty written sources. The author dwells on a detailed analysis only of a few symbols (Gopatshah, cock, dog, ram) and pays attention to the symbols of Xvarno — the divinity of glory, luck and fortune.
The characteristic of images has been based on the data obtained from the Zoroastrian religious treatises.
The study of the so-called «symbols» (or «monograms») not infrequently represented in the Sassanian intaglios, made the author distinguish three groups of «devices»: on head-dresses of the entourage of the Sassanian shahs and members of their families (Sassanian reliefs), on head-dresses of priests and statesmen (seals with «official portrait») and at last as an independent design.2
The third group of symbols particularly often met with in seals, the author reduced to two types, in spite of their apparent diversity, with few variations within each type.
The insignia of this group perhaps were «neshans» (symbols) of various shrines, according to the data provided by the written sources and inscriptions on the seals bearing these symbols (names of temples, names and titles of priests, religious formulae).
Comparing some of these symbols with «punch-marks» on the Achaemenid, Partheian and Sassanian coins (particularly on small silver and copper coins of the Sassanian shahs Sha-pur II — Varahran V), the author comes to the conclusion that some of these coins were probably struck either at temples or in some satrapies.3
The comparative data obtained suggest that the first group of symbolic insignia and, to a certain extent, the second group (insignia on the kulahs of statesmen) were patrimonial
«tamgas», or insignia of definite ranks.
The third group of symbols as well as the insignia on the kulahs uf priests, were presumably
the symbols of the Zaroastrian shrines.
Pages 48—54 of the present Catalogue Raisonne are devoted to the reading and interpretation of inscriptions on the Sassanian seals. Next to a numerical number of inscription a Catalogue
seal number is indicated. . .
In the Catalogue the seals are classified into themes and within each subject group
dates. Nine columns of the Catalogue indicate the following:
1. Numerical numbers of seals
2. Inventory numbers of the collection
3. Descriptions of images
4. Type of stones
5. Shape and dimensions of seals
C. Manner of carving
1 Ph. Ackermann. Sassanian Seals. SPA, vol. I, pp. 784—S15.