A breathtaking 1,600 year old silver-gilt plate estimated to sell for £250,000 is one of the top lots in Bonhams next sale of Antiquities on 3rd April in London.
The plate, decorated in relief, shows a king thought to be Hormizd II from the area known today as Iran, mounted on a horse while hunting ostriches or great bustards. The plate weighs close to a kilo. It is estimated to sell for £150,000-250,000.
Royal hunting scenes were an important motif in Sasanian art, depicting kings and the royal family as gloriously-attired, and full of vigour and skill. Many of these gilded silver plates show similar scenes of kings hunting boar, rams, stags and lions. The representation of an ostrich or bustard however is extremely rare.
The bird-headed crown with wings is most frequently associated with Hormizd II and this plate shows the king wearing a specific crown of a winged eagle with two pearls in its mouth. Hormizd II wears such a crown on many of his coins and is also shown wearing a similar crown on the equestrian relief at Naqsh-e Rustam.
It is possible that the plate is meant to depict Hormizd II as a young prince, as he is shown without his usual beard and with straight hair reminiscent of his father Narseh's style. Sasanian crown princes are often shown without beards.