A Ghurid silver Pectoral
Lot 55
A Ghurid silver Pectoral Central Asia, early 13th Century
£6,000 - 8,000
US$ 10,000 - 13,000
Auction Details
Lot Details
A Ghurid silver Pectoral
Central Asia, early 13th Century
with slightly convex sides, rounded base and scolloped top edge and two suspension loops, the hammered metal surface worked with scrolling palmette vine around a design of a central figure wearing a tall crown with camels either side, some areas of restoration
17 x 15.5 cm. max; 88g.


  • The Eastern Iranian world in particular had a highly developed silver sheet metal industry, but most surviving examples from this period of the 10th to early 13th century are either small items of jewellery, of which there are many examples, horse harness fittings (Bonhams, London, 11 October 2000 lot 544), or amulet cases and pendants (Kjeld von Folsach, Art from the World of Islam in the David Collection, Copenhagen 2001, p.300, figs.463-66). Rare examples of larger items are a hoard of eleven pieces comprising three bowls, two saucers, a ewer, a vase, a jar, a cup and a dish in the L.A. Mayer Memorial Museum in Jerusalem (R.W. Ferrier, The Arts of Persia, New Haven and London, 1989, p.171, illustrated p.174, fig.5), and some in Russian collections (V. P.Darkevitch, Southern Metal Artefacts, Moscow, 1976 - in the original Russian).

    Shortly before the production of this plaque, at some time in the twelfth century, the Eastern Iranian region appears to have experienced an acute silver shortage. Metalworkers instead turned to brass, with inlaid designs in silver and copper. Compared to this metalwork of a slightly later period, the technique and decoration of the present plaque seems at first slightly archaic. The repoussé method, when used on the sheet silver, encourages a sculptural treatment of figures and ornament, which is clearly related to Sassanian types, and is quite absent from the inlaid brass pieces of the thirteenth century onwards. On those, made from a material rather less ductile than silver, the decorative emphasis shifts further towards surface pattern and away from the plastic form so prevalent in pre-Mongol times.

    Much of what remains of the cultural production of the Ghurid dynasty is architectural. A group of panels with vine motif comparable to our plaque decorated the Mausoleum of the Ghurid Sultan Ghiyath al-Din which was constructed in the early 13th Century (Robert Hillenbrand, 'The Ghurid Tomb at Herat', in Warwick Ball and Leonard Harrow ed. Cairo to Kabul: Afghan and Islamic Studies presented to Ralph Pinder-Wilson, London, 2002).
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