The Sassanid sword and scabbard

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Kings of the Sasanian period (224-651 A.D.) are almost always depicted with a sword suspended from the belt, a motif appropriate to the victor in combat. This iron sword with a gold-covered wooden scabbard is a splendid example of the type adopted by the Sasanians from the Hunnish nomads who roamed Europe and Asia in the sixth and seventh centuries, shortly before the beginning of the Islamic era. It has a long and narrow grip with two finger rests, and the scabbard has a pair of P-shaped projections to which two straps of different lengths were originally attached. The straps held the sword suspended from the warrior’s belt in such a way that it could easily be drawn even by a warrior on horseback.

The sword itself is inlaid with garnets and glass, and a pattern of overlapping feathers decorates the surface. That a similar pattern can be seen on the helmet of a Sasanian warrior has led scholars to suggest it may be symbolic of the  god of victory, Verethragna. Several other swords of this type are known, some mounted in gold, some in silver. Stylistically and technically, they are all very similar, although the present example is by far the most elaborate of the group.

this swords and scabbards are kept in The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

index

Sassanid sward and scabbard
Period: Sasanian
Date: ca. 7th century A.D.
Geography: Iran
Culture: Sasanian
Medium: Blade: iron; scabbard and hilt: gold over wood, garnets, glass-paste; guard: gilt-bronze
Dimensions: L. 39 1/2 in. (100.3 cm)
Classification: Metalwork-Implements
Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1965
DT5918
Short sword and scabbard
Period: Sasanian
Date: ca. 6th–۷th century A.D.
Geography: Iran
Culture: Sasanian
Medium: Silver (scabbard and hilt), iron (blade)
Dimensions: H. 3/4 x W. 2 3/8 x L. 11 7/8 in. (1.9 x 6.1 x 30.2 cm)
Classification: Metalwork-Implements
Credit Line: Gift of Ernest Erickson Foundation, 1988

 

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