A Large collection of mainly Sasanian seals and rings, some earlier in date in two grey plastic cabinets, with two books and a file (268)
Lot 346
A large collection of Sasanian seals and rings
Sold for £ 4,200 (US$ 5,580) inc. premium


21 Apr 2005, 10:30 BST

London, New Bond Street

Lot Details
A large collection of Sasanian seals and rings
Circa 4th-6th Centuries A.D.
Mainly of domed form in agate, chalcedony and haematite, engraved on the face with a variety of designs, many with collection labels attached:
1. Profile busts including:
a. Male bust with bearded face, the hair in tight curls, wearing a jewelled necklace and tunic, a Pahlavi inscription above, 21mm. diam., chip to front of bust, no. 'S150'.
b. Male bust with bearded face, wearing a tunic, 24mm. diam., no. 'S11'., chip to side of loop.
c. Male bust, above a pair of wings, 27mm. diam., no. 'S140'.
d. Male bust with bearded face above a pair of wings, 19mm. diam., no. 'S41'.
e. Four other seals with male bust and bearded face, schematically rendered, 20mm. max., 12mm. min., nos. 'S101', 'S77' & 'S67' .
f. Two male busts with bearded faces, their heads joined at the back facing outwards, 11mm. diam., no. 'S257'.
g. A lapis lazuli rectangular seal with a profile male bust on one side, the hair gathered into a bunch at the back, a vertical column of inscription in front, uncertain date, 18mm. long, pierced longitudinally, no. 'S189'.
2. Single and double figures including:
a. A clothed figure with long hair, walking and holding a staff in one hand, the upper edge decorated with a series of short parallel strokes, 25mm. diam., no. 'S209'.
b. A standing male figure wearing short tunic, a spear on either side, the points facing down, 25mm. diam., no. 'S9'.
c. An archer with bow and arrow, schematically rendered, 25mm. diam., no. 'S6'.
d. Two standing facing figures, clasping hands across an altar, (a marriage scene?), carved back to the seal, 18mm. diam., no. 'S221'.
e. Two standing facing figures wearing knee-length garments flaring at the knee, holding a child aloft and horizintally between them above a stepped altar, a hand above gesturing towards the child, a goat/dog stands at right angles behind the left figure and eats from a bush, 18mm. diam.
f. Three seals with worshipper figures of stylised form, 23mm. max. diam., 20mm. min. diam., nos. 'S154', 'N60' & 'S152'.
g. A seated female figure within an arch, 22mm. diam., some chips, nos. 'S195'.
h. A seated female figure with braided hair within a border, holding flowers, 13mm. diam., no. 'S124'.
i. A walking male figure carrying an animal across his back and another object before him with leafy sprigs framing the scene, 18mm., diam., no. 'S120'.
j. A ring, the bezel engraved with a winged walking figure holding a ring with ribbons, 28mm. diam., no. 'S88'.
k. A winged walking figure holding a ring with ribbons, 21mm. diam., no. 'S250'.
l. Another smaller more stylised example, 13mm. diam., 'S1'.
m. Seven small seals, each with a winged figure holding a beribboned flower, 12mm. average diam., nos. 'S87', 'S206', 'S14', 'S133', 'S155', '568' & 'S123'.
3. Gayomard scenes:
a. Four with star-topped staffs, a dog between the legs below, delineated ears and the body covered in the thick animal fur, 25mm. max. diam., 21mm. min. diam. nos. 'S152', 'S92', 'S8' & 'S5'.
b. Two with a dog between the legs below and the body covered with thick animal hair, 32mm. diam., no. 'S107' & 22mm. diam., no. 'S86'.
c. Two figures standing side-by-side, each holding one staff, a dog between the legs of each, depicted with animal hair, 35mm. diam., no. 'S48'.
d. An ithyphallic worn example holding two staffs, 25mm. diam., no. 'S81'.
4. Human-headed animals:
a. Three of winged Lamassu or Gopatsah, the human-headed bull, shown recumbent, his hair straight and bound on each, the largest within a notched border, 20mm. diam., no. 'S207', the second, 17mm. diam.; the third, 14mm. diam., no. 'S4'.
b. Three of winged Lamassu or Gopatsah, shown standing, 14mm. diam., no. 'S21'; another in green jasper, 32mm. diam., no. '560', the third more stylised, 11mm. diam., no. 'S61'.
c. Another with the body of a ?dog, the human head facing towards the ground, 16mm., diam., no. 'S33'.
d. An agate seal with flat face, straight sides and convex back, engraved on the face with a recumbent winged creature with human head and lion's body, the back of the seal damaged, 24mm., diam., no. 'S116'.


  • 5. Animal and human scenes:
    a. A large agate seal with a mounted hunter spearing a lion shown rampant, 34mm. diam., no. 'S10', damage to one side of loop.
    b. A haematite seal, the back cut-off, the circular face with a hunter spearing an up-ended animal, 20mm. diam, no. '544'.
    c. An opaque blue glass tabular seal with a figure attacking/playing with a ?dog, 16mm., long.
    d. A figure facing a ram, 15mm. diam., no. 'S31'.
    e. A ploughing scene showing a man with two oxen, 13mm. diam., no. 'S54', some damage to one side of the loop.
    6. Winged animals:
    a. Four winged horses, including a mottled red jasper example, 18mm. diam., no. 'S240'; a green jasper example, 15mm. diam., no. 'S104'; another with an inscription around the edge, 17mm. diam., no. 'S243', the fourth showing the horse with head hanging down, 18mm. diam., no. 'S179'.
    b. Seven with the sen bird, the largest, 27mm., diam, no. 'S7'; another 20mm. diam., no. 'S176'; the third, 17mm., diam., nos. 'S256' and four others, 13mm. average diam., no. 'S59', 'S172', 'S253' & 'S63'.
    c. A red jasper seal with recumbent stag, a star and crescent in the field, 34mm. diam. no. 'S22'.
    d. Four bull's: the largest recumbent, 25mm. diam., no. 'S90'; a walking bull, 18mm. diam., no. 'S98' and another smaller example with recumbent bull, 11mm. diam., no. 'S62', the fourth shown standing, 13mm. diam., no. 'S19'.
    7. Animal groups:
    a. Four with lions attacking, including a large mottled red jasper example with a lion attacking a winged bull naturalistically rendered, a star and crescent in the field, 25mm. diam., no. 'S22', some chipping around the loop; another more stylistically rendered, 24mm. diam.; another in haematite attacking a recumbent ram 19mm., diam., no. 'S247'; the fourth in green jasper attacking a standing winged ram, 13mm. diam., no. 'S23'.
    b. A bird standing on the back of an antelope, 20mm. diam., no. 'S25'.
    c. Two recumbent antelope facing each other, 32mm. diam., no. 'S180'.
    d. Two seals with recumbent stags, their necks crossed and ribbons floating from the necks, the larger, 27mm. diam., the smaller in green stone, 18mm. diam., no. 'S254'.
    e. Two rams shown, one inverted, 13mm., diam., no. 'S30'.
    f. Two recumbent winged bulls, shown face-to-face, within a border, 12mm. diam., no. 'S205', some chips.
    g. A winged bull leaping over a ram, within a notched border, 12mm. diam., no. 'S20'.
    h. A green jasper seal with a horse leaping over a ?ram, a crescent in the field, 36mm. diam., no. 'S248'.
    i. One with two stags standing next to one another, 14mm., diam., no. 'S45'.
    j. Two antelope running around a tree, 13mm. diam., no. 'S128'.
    k. Two horned animals crossed at right angles, 12mm. diam.
    l. Another with an antelope and a stag standing next to one another, 11mm. diam., no.'S2'.
    8. Ram's head issuing from a wing base:
    a. Three in chalcedony, 28mm. diam. ; 25mm. diam., no. 'S151' and 19mm. diam.
    b. Three in carnelian, 21mm. diam., no. 'S212'; 16mm. diam., no. 'S165', the third, 10mm., diam., no. 'S69'.
    c. Two in haematite, 16mm. max. diam., nos. 'S217' & 'S126'.
    d. One in chalcedony with carved back to the seal, 15mm. diam., no. 'S58'.
    9. Seven couchant ram's; 20mm. largest diam., 11mm. smallest diam., nos. 'S197', 'S249', 'S23' with a bush and inscription, 'S236' with ribbons and inscription, 'S220' with inscription, 'S148' & 'S102'.
    10. Five stags:
    a. Three walking, 20mm. diam. largest, 12mm. diam. other two, nos. 'S129' & 'S203'.
    b. Two recumbent, 19mm. diam. no. 'S161', 10mm. diam, no. 'S97'.
    c. One crouching, 18mm.. diam., no. 'S202'.
    11. Nine antelope, variously recumbent, leaping and standing, 20mm. diam. largest diam., 17mm. average diam., nos. 'S106', 'S163', 'S171', 'S39'. 'S17', 'S75', 'S66', 's127', 'S64'.
    13. Other animals:
    a. Lions: two walking, 19mm. diam., no. 'S109' & 13mm. diam., no. 'S65', some chipping; three crouching, one with an inscription around the edge, 13mm. diam., no. 'S235', another with an inscription behind it, 11mm. diam., no. 'S251' , the third with an inscriptin around the edge, 15mm. diam, no. 'S226'.
    b. Camels: one in carnelian with strokes around the border, 11mm. diam., no. 'S244', the other in black stone, 12mm. diam., no. 'S216'.
    c. A horse, 17mm. diam.
    d. Three with a walking bear; 17mm. diam., no. 'S245'; 17mm. diam., no. 'S117' and the third 11mm. diam.
    e. A bear's head within a rope-twist border, 15mm. diam., no. 'S230'.
    f. A rabbit in green jasper, 14mm. diam., no. 'S14'.
    g. Four hare, one within a border, 11mm. diam., no. 'S72'; another 12mm., diam., no. 'S146', the third, 14mm. diam., no. 'S158' & the fourth within a rope-twist border, 18mm. diam.
    h. A boar, 15mm. diam., no. 'S204'.
    14. Insects:
    a. Scorpions, including a chalcedony ring engraved with a scorpion on the bezel, 27mm. diam., no. 'S42'; another with a star in the field, 18mm. diam., no. 'S94'; two with a rope-twist border, 12mm. diam., no. 'S34' & 18mm. diam.; another with an inscriptin around the border; another with an inscription around the edge, 13mm. diam., no. 'S233' ; a schematically rendered example, 20mm. diam., no. 'S82'; a tiny example, 8mm. diam., no. 'S74' ; two with carved backs, 13mm. diam., 10mm., diam.; two examples with two scorpions, 17mm. diam., no. 'S105' & 16mm., diam., no. 'S80'.
    15. Five fish: 19mm. max. diam., no. 'S12'; 11mm. min. diam., no. 'S113'; 17mm. diam., no. 'S112', and two others, nos. 'S111' & 'S84'.
    16. Birds:
    a. Fourteen of single birds, including ducks, eagles, birds of prey and other species, 23mm. max. diam., 10mm. min. diam., 17mm. average diam., nos. 'S118', 'S93', 'S157',
    'S239' with an inscription above, nos.'S208', 'S170', 'S131', 'S122', 'S332', 'S156', 'S132'
    & S103'.

    b. Two with birds attacking their prey: 32mm., diam., nos. 'S43' & 22mm. diam., no. 'S177'.
    c. Two birds above one another, 17mm. diam., no. 'S35'.
    17. Two seals with a knot of heads, 19mm. diam., no. 'S26' & 13mm. diam., no. 'SS56'.
    18. Two seals with the human hand on a pair of ribbons, both in carnelian with carved back to the seal, 20mm. diam., no. 'S52' & 16mm., diam., no. 'S32'.
    19. A carnelian seal with carved back, the face with a tree, two birds in the branches, and two ?rabbits at right angles against the trunk, 20mm. diam., no. 'S118'.
    20. Two seals with tulips, a large chalcedony example, 30mm. diam., no. 'S47', the other of rock crystal, the back of the seal carved in relief, with ribbons below and a wreath above, 15mm. diam., no. 'S213'.
    21. a single tulip within a wreathed border, 15mm. diam., no. 'S231'.
    22. Seven seals with a pomegranate flower; 18mm. max. diam., 13mm. min. diam., including a haematite example with carved back, nos. 'S40', 'S95', 'S173', 'S121',
    'S31', 'S96' & 'S175'
    23. Three seals with altars; '19mm. diam., no. 'S167' & 18mm. diam., no. 'S214', the third, 18mm. diam., no. 'S168'.
    24. Eight with a device based on the crescent and standard: The largest above a pair of wings, 22mm. diam., no. 'S125'; two others, 15mm. diam., no. 'S28' & the other within a border, 15mm. diam., no. 'S225'; four others with an inscription, 16mm. diam., no. 'S228', another with carved back, 16mm. diam., no. 'S241' and three others, 10mm. max. diam., no. 'S221', 'S29' & 'S219'.
    25. Three seals with a device incorporating the crescent, 20mm. diam., no. 'S174', 10mm. diam., no. 'S73' & 10mm. diam., no. 'S70'.
    26. Four examples incorporating a star and moon, including a carnelian ring with ribbed shaft and engraved bezel, 26mm. diam., no. 'S149', another above ribbons and and beneath an arch, 19mm. diam., no. 'S223' and two small simple examples, 13mm. diam. & 10mm. diam., no. 'S71'.
    27. Two other seals, one with a star, 15mm. diam., no. 'S79', the other with a device surrounded by ribbons surmounted by a tulip, 17mm. diam., no. 'S23'.
    28. Four seals with cruciform designs; 20mm. max. diam., 15mm. min. diam., nos. 'S53',
    'S166', 'S222' & 'S27'
    29. An uninscribed chalcedony ring with ribbed shank, 24mm. diam., and an uninscribed carnelian seal, 14mm. diam.
    A collection of twenty Sasanian intaglios, circa 4th-6th Centuries A.D., in carnelian, garnet, lapis lazuli and agate, engraved variously with:
    a. Zebu: two recumbent, one with a star above, 16mm. diam., no. 'S147', the other 10mm. diam., no. 'S110'; three standing, one in lapis lazuli, 14mm. diam., no. 'S193', the others both 11mm. diam., one no. 'S164'.
    b. A recumbent stag with a ribbon, 12mm. diam., no. 'S45'.
    c. A goat with ribbons, 12mm. diam., no. 'S38'.
    d. Two lions: 19mm., diam., no. 'S160', the other, 13mm. diam., no. 'S142'.
    e. Three attacking lions: the largest of garnet, attacking a horse, an inscription above, 20mm. diam.; another attacking a ram, 17mm. diam., no. 'S24', the third a ?lamb, 12mm.
    diam., no. 'S16'.
    f. An agate imitating nicolo with a grazing winged horse within a foliate border, 16mm. diam., no. 'S232'.
    g. A circular convex intaglio with a standing horse, a moon and star in the field, 17mm. diam., no. 'S15'.
    h. An intaglio with two monkeys standing side by side, 16mm. diam. no. 'S191'.
    i. A carnelian example with convex face engraved with a human-headed peacock, 15mm. diam., no. 'S246'.
    j. A hare, 10mm. diam., no. 'S162'.
    k. A peacock, 10mm. diam., no. 'S139'.
    l. A human hand, the thumb and fore-finger touching, within a rope-twist border, 13mm. diam. no. ‘S224’.
    m. An octagonal male portrait bust, 6mm. diam., no. ‘S138’.
    n. A tiny Sasanian nicolo intaglio with a duck, 10mm. diam., set in a later ring, 20mm. diam., no. ‘S13’.
    Six bronze Sasanian seals, variously inscribed, circa 4th-6th Centuries A.D., 11mm. average diam., no. ‘S134’, ‘S135’, ‘S50’, ‘S114’.
    Four terracotta bullae with Sasanian seal impressions, the largest, with the main impression of a walking winged Lamassu, an inscription above, 1¾in. (4.5cm.); another with a recumbent ram with ribbons, 13/8in. (3.5cm.); the third with a portrait male head with inscription, 13/8in. (3.5cm.), the fourth with a crescent and standard device, 1¼in. (3.2cm.), all circa 4th-6th Centuries A.D.
    Twenty-five other seals and rings in grey hardstone, chalcedony, calcite, carnelian, glass and bronze, mainly inscribed and 1st Millennium B.C. – mid 1st Millennium A.D., some later, nos. ‘24’, ’7v’, ‘S76’, ‘170’, ‘18N’, ‘9t’, ‘94p’, ‘S169’, ‘S136’, ‘18p’, ‘7t’, ‘18f’, ‘7y’,
    ‘4x’ & ‘180’, all containted in two grey plastic cabinets with seven drawers.

    Accompanied by a file containing the collector’s typed notes with acquisition details and brief descriptions.
    Two reference books: Robert Göbl, Der Sasanidische Siegelkanon, (1973) and Catalogue des Sceaux, Camées et Bulles Sasanides de la Bibliotèque Nationale et du Musée du Louvre, part II, Philippe Gignoux, Les Sceaux et Bulles Inscrits (1978) (268)

    The property of a German private collector, mainly acquired between 1974-77.

    For similar Sasanian seals and a discussion on their subject matter cf. Christopher J. Brunner, Sasanian Stamp Seals in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York).
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