Dark Yellow Chalcedony Sassanian Stamp Seal of a Winged-Bull
A delicate yellow chalcedony ring-shape Sassanian stamp seal with a decorative incised engraving. Within the flattened, oval bezel a zoomorphic figure has been carved, depicting a recumbent winged bull. Details, through the use of finely incised lines have been added to the raised wing, suggesting feathers, and diagonally across the animal’s body. There is a perforation through the centre of the seal, giving it its characteristic ring shape and used for suspension.
Date: Circa 3rd-7th century AD Provenance: Ex Robin Symes Ancient Art Mayfair dealership, acquired before 1995. Condition: Very fine condition. Small abrasions to the surface consistent with age.
The bull was one of the most popular zoomorphic motifs that dominated Mesopotamian glyphic art, whether this was a simple representation of the animal or a more elaborate astral figure with wings. The numerous depictions on Sassanian seals attests to the close relationship between Sassanian and Mesopotamian glyptic practices. The depiction was one associated not only with religion, connected to various gods and figures, but also to economic and social values. The bull was an important commodity for the Iranian people, relied upon for food, cultivating the land and for sacrificial purposes. Within the religious sphere, bulls were closely associated with fertility, and the god Dumuzid throughout ancient Mesopotamian art history. This composition of an abstract bull and an astral sign (the inclusion of wings), might also have been derived from the human-headed bull, Lamassu. The figure was an Assyrian protective deity, known as a celestial being and a royal guardian.
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