Sassanian Bronze Bowl with Bull


A finely cast and hammered Sassanian bronze bowl featuring a hemispherical container sitting on a flat base. Its slightly convex walls render an elegant continuously curved profile, ending in a narrow flat rim. The smooth inside displays a central raised knob, around which the image of a bull has been neatly engraved. The animal is portrayed in a running stance, with its long tail raised upwards. Much attention has been given to the rendering of its anatomical details: fine carvings emphasise the bull’s strong physique and detail its mane. Two long horns spring from the animal head, shown in profile. The image is framed by a frieze with a geometrical motif, comprised of evenly spaced arches and dots. The vessel’s outer surface is smooth and unworked. The bowl is partially covered with a lustre of green and brown patina.

Date: Circa 3rd - 7th century AD
Provenance: From the ex S.M. (deceased) London/Israel collection, 1970-99.
Condition: Good condition. A crack and a dent to the body, patination on the surface.


The Sassanians or Sasanians succeeded the Achaemenid Persians, establishing an Empire which, at its peak, expanded from the Euphrates to the Indus Rivers and included modern-day Armenia and Georgia. Sassanian art borrowed from Near Eastern and Greco-Roman traditions, and adapted the significance of these cultures’ iconography to the local repertoire.

Representations of animals comprised a large portion of the Ancient Near Eastern artistic repertoire. Specifically, images of wild animals and features considered dangerous or powerful appear in all periods of ancient Near Eastern art, dating back to the Neolithic period. Bulls, together with lions, became especially prominent and were used to express the power of rulers and deities. They were linked to the storm god Adad and depictions of bulls would have referred to the god’s presence and powers.

Weight 188.6 g
Dimensions W 15.2 x H 4 cm



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