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Travel Tip: Art and Archaeology in France
The Sassanid Persians: Splendours of a Forgotten Empire

Sassanid king Shapur III (reigned 383-388) shown spearing a leopard, fourth centuryHermitage Museum, St PetersburgPhoto courtesy of Musée Cernuschi
Sassanid king Shapur III (reigned 383-388) shown spearing a leopard, fourth century
Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg
Photo courtesy of Musée Cernuschi
The Sassanid Persians: Splendours of a Forgotten Empire
PARIS  •  Musée Cernuschi  •  Ongoing

Some 200 objects including silver, metal, and plaster artifacts dating from the Sassanid dynasty (224 - 651 AD) of Ancient Iran are on view. Artworks are on loan from the National Museum of Iran, Tehran as well as European and North American museums. The Sassanid Empire's territory encompassed all of today’s Iran, Iraq, Armenia, Afghanistan, eastern parts of Turkey, and parts of Syria, Pakistan, Caucasian, Central Asia and Arabia.

The kings of the Sasanian dynasty dominated Mesopotamia and Iran for more than four centuries, ruling over a realm comparable to that of the emperors of Rome and Byzantium. While the Sasanian empire coexisted alongside the Byzantine empire and was of equal importance and grandeur, it is not as widely studied or recognized. While the Sasanians inherited a land divided into small kingdoms and at war with each other, they passed on to their successors the concept of a unified empire and a tradition of legendary royal power and unparalleled achievement in the arts.

The most conspicuous monuments of the Sasanian empire are the huge dynastic rock reliefs carved on the mountain cliffs of Iran with investiture, battle, and hunting scenes. More familiar are silver-gilt treasures, a number of which will be included in the exhibition, and the collections of seals illustrating a great range of designs. Many characteristics of Sasanian art are consistent with the thought and beliefs of the Zoroastrian religion. Greco-Roman imagery on selected works also demonstrates the western influence on Sasanian art.

Among the exhibition’s largest pieces is a royal portrait bust in stucco found at the royal site of Kish or Uhaimir in Iraq which was one of the twelve city-states of ancient Sumer civilization, located on an ancient branch of the Euphrates River 10 kilometers east of Babylon which is denoted to Shapur II.

The extraordinary luxury of the Sasanian court is represented by gilded silver plates with royal imagery, vessels decorated with dancers and musicians, precious glass wares, silk and fine wool textiles, luxurious arms, carved gems, and seals. Bronze plates, stucco panels, and mosaics will provide broader insight into the arts of this once flourishing empire.

Musée Cernuschi Web Site

Contact: 7 avenue Velasquez
75017 Paris
Tel: (33)1 45 63 50 75

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