The Shapour Plate is a masterpiece of silverwork that presents the Sassanian king, Shapour II, as a ruler of the universe and the king of kings.
It was produced during the 4th century CE for Shapour II who is identified by his distinctive crown, Asia.si.edu reported.
He was one of the most powerful rulers of the Sassanian Dynasty, which controlled Iran and much of the ancient Near East from 224 to 651 CE.
During Shapour’s reign, scenes depicting the king’s hunt for gazelle, boars, bulls and ibex were important metaphors for royal power.
The plate, like several other similar examples, was presented as a gift to dignitaries or was displayed prominently in the Sassanian palace to assert Shapour’s sovereignty.
This Sassanian plate, however, was not discovered in Iran, but in Russia. Its journey from Iran to Russia and then to the United States and the Freer Gallery of Art is as important to its identity as was its role in the Sassanian court.
Acquired by a wealthy Russian noble family, the Stroganovs, from the border areas of Siberia, it was displayed in their palace in Saint Petersburg until the Russian Revolution of 1917.
In 1934, it became one of the first works of Sassanian art to enter the United States, and it is among the most important Sassanian objects in an American museum today.
Creating the Shapour Plate
The simplest silver plates from the Sassanian period were made with two pieces of silver that formed the body and the base.
In contrast, the Shapour Plate consists of 19 separate parts, an accomplishment that elevates it to the highest level of Sassanian craftsmanship.
The plate was first hammered into shape and designs were then added by chasing, punching and repousse work. The lost piece of the boar’s haunch reveals how the pieces were added to the surface.
Gold was applied through fire gilding--a process in which gold is mixed with mercury and then heated.
The mercury burns away, leaving behind a thin layer of sparkling gold. At times, the gold spreads beyond the outline of a design, which is a characteristic of fire gilding.
Feasting and Food
The Shapour hunting plate was meant for display, but many Sassanian silver vessels were used in conjunction with banquets.
Feasting vessels were ornately decorated on the exterior so they could be admired while in use.
The motifs often had multilayered religious and secular meanings, ranging from scenes of figures associated with the ancient Zoroastrian religion to views of nature with birds and trees.
The Sassanians were known throughout the ancient world for their elaborate and sumptuous feasts.
They were one of the first societies to serve meals in multiple courses, along with a variety of rich desserts. Banquets could go on for days and included a time for listening to music after eating.
Feasts were more than a time for celebration and consuming food and drank: they could also serve as deeply religious ceremonies.
Meals began with a blessing and food was eaten in silence. In their writings, Greek visitors to the Persian court expressed their surprise in the lavishness of the feast and its strange silence.
From Iran to Russia
How did an important Sassanian hunting plate travel from Iran to the border of Siberia?
Numerous Sassanian vessels have been unearthed in northeastern Russia, a fact that continues to puzzle scholars.
Toward the end of the Sassanian Empire in the 7th century, the Shapour Plate was probably seized by marauding tribes from the Caucasus.
At that time, the empire was in rapid decline and fighting a bitter war with the Byzantines, who were centered in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul).
The Byzantines offered gold and silver vessels and many other treasures to the tribesmen of Caucasus as bribes to raid Iran.
The discovery of silver vessels out of Iran suggests tribes carried their loot north to trade with the Russians.
Northern Finno-Ugrian tribes in the Perm region of Russia probably traded the Shapour hunting plate for furs.
They scratched human and animal forms as well as abstract designs into many vessels, perhaps as a way to incorporate the Sassanian objects into their own rituals.
The base of the Shapour Plate has several scratches that were likely added in Russia. The Finno-Ugrians might have buried their silver vessels to avoid paying taxes to the Russian tsars.
The piles of coins stashed with them help to date when they were buried. Many of these ancient Sassanian objects have been preserved for decades, deep in the Siberian frontier.
Sassanian vessels have also been found in China, Central Asia, Europe and Armenia as well as Iran and Russia.
A Sassanian plate in the Bibliotheque Nationale de France is known to have been in Paris since the 13th century. This suggests Sassanian metalwork was highly valued and traded in medieval Europe.
Orumieh Bazaar Awaits Nat’l Heritage Listing
The grand bazaar of Orumieh in West Azarbaijan province is expected to be registered on the National Heritage List, said the governor of the city.
Javad Sharifzazdeh added that efforts have been made to achieve the purpose.
He noted that Takht-e Soleyman and Qara Kelisa are two archeological sites of the city registered on the National Heritage List, adding that the bazaar can be the third ancient place of the city, which would be registered on the list.
He urged all departments and organizations of Orumieh to help solve the problems facing the bazaar, noting that service companies should complete their infrastructural projects.
Sharifzazdeh hoped that the bazaar would be registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in the shortest period of time.
The archeological site of Takht-e Soleyman, in northwestern Iran, is situated in a valley set in a volcanic mountain region. The site includes the main Zoroastrian sanctuary partly rebuilt in the Ilkhanid (Mongol) period (13th century) as well as a temple of the Sassanian period (6th and 7th centuries) dedicated to Anahita.
The site has important symbolic significance. The designs of the fire temple, the palace and the general layout have strongly influenced the development of Islamic architecture.
Qara Kelisa, also known as St. Thaddeus Church, is an ancient Armenian monastery located in the mountainous area of Iran’s West Azarbaijan province, about 20 kilometers from the town of Makou.
Persian Gulf Confab Planned
The Ninth National Persian Gulf Conference, with focus on science and tourism, will be held at Tehran’s Science and Culture University on May 6.
Announcing this, secretary of the conference, Babak Arsia, said the conference organized by National Scientific-Cultural Center of Iranian Students will be attended by officials, professors, researchers and students.
He noted that the political and social aspects of Persian Gulf as well as its environment and geography, history, archeology , art and architecture will be discussed during the conference.
Persian Gulf tourism, especially health and tourism, are among other issues that will be discussed in the conference.
Arsia went on to say that more than 500 articles have so far been sent to the secretariat of the conference and a number of them will be selected by the jury for presentation in the conference.
An exhibition of selected posters, music performance and a ceremony to honor those chosen in the conference are among the other programs scheduled for the sidelines of the conference.
Effect of the Draft
By Mahmoud Shabestari
Intoxicated from the pure draft
Which I had drained to the dregs,
In the bare dust I fell.
Since then, I don’t know if I exist or not;
But I am not sober, nor am I ill.
Sometimes, like His eye, I am full of joy,
Or, like his curl, I am waving;
Sometimes, alas! From habit or nature,
I am lying on a dust heap.
Sometimes, at a glance from Him,
I am back in the rose garden.
The Beloved Guest
Cast away your existence entirely,
For it is nothing but weeds and refuse.
Go, clear out your heart’s chamber;
Arrange it as the abiding-place of the beloved.
When you go forth, He will come in,
And to you, with selflessness,
He will unveil his beauty.
Unsweetened coconuts, 2 cups (shredded)
Sugar, 1 cup
Egg whites, 3 large
Butter, 1 tablespoon (melted)
Powdered saffron, 1/4 teaspoon (dissolved in 2 tablespoons of hot water)
Rosewater, 1 tablespoon
Lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon
Vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon (optional)
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine coconut and sugar. Add egg whites one at a time, using a hand mixer.
Add the remaining ingredients and blend well. Line two baking sheets with parchment papers or lightly grease them.
Using a teaspoon put the batter on the sheets, spacing them two inches apart. Bake the macaroons in the 350 degrees Fahrenheit, preheated oven for about 12-15 minutes or till they are golden at edges.
Remove from the oven and cool. Place on a serving platter or store in an airtight container.
Health Benefits of Coconuts, Eggs
Eating coconuts is excellent for one’s immunity. They are antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial and anti-parasitic, meaning they kill harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.
Because of that, if you consume coconut in any of its various forms, it can help treat some of mankind’s worst and most resilient of illnesses such as influenza, throat infections, urinary tract infections, tapeworms, herpes and numerous other ailments caused by microbials.
Whether you’re eating the meat, drinking the juice or consuming it as oil, coconuts are a delicious and nutritious source of fiber, vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
It has tons of calcium, potassium and magnesium, as well as plenty of electrolytes. In fact, coconut water is known to have the same electrolyte levels as human plasma and has even been used for plasma transfusions.
The oil is excellent for keeping one young and beautiful. Its antioxidant properties slow down the aging process by protecting the body from harmful free radicals.
It also helps hair to become more healthy and lustrous. Eating coconuts also support the development of strong, healthy bones and teeth.
Also, eggs are great for the eyes. According to one study, an egg a day may prevent macular degeneration due to the carotenoid content, specifically lutein and zeaxanthin. Both nutrients are more readily available to our bodies from eggs than from other sources.
In another study, researchers found that people who eat eggs every day lower their risk of developing cataracts, also because of the lutein and zeaxanthin in eggs.
One egg contains 6 grams of high-quality protein and all 9 essential amino acids.
According to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health, there is no significant link between egg consumption and heart disease. In fact, according to one study, regular consumption of eggs may help prevent blood clots, stroke and heart attacks.
They are a good source of choline. One egg yolk has about 300 micrograms of choline. Choline is an important nutrient that helps regulate the brain, nervous system and cardiovascular system.
They contain the right kind of fat. One egg contains just 5 grams of fat and only 1.5 grams of that is saturated fat.
New research shows that, contrary to previous belief, moderate consumption of eggs does not have a negative impact on cholesterol. Research suggests that it is saturated fat that raises cholesterol rather than dietary cholesterol.
Marine Trade Museum
Marine Trade Museum of Persian Gulf, recently inaugurated in Bushehr province, displays rare historical documents related to Persian Gulf.