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Golden Head of a Horse Rhyton

Golden head of horse rhyton - Sassanid Empire 6-7 AD

Golden Head of a Horse Rhyton

This golden rhyton of horse’s head is from the Persian Empire of the Sassanid era, 6-7th century AD. Similar in form to, and perhaps originating from, the drinking horn, it has been widespread over Eurasia since prehistoric times. A rhyton is a conical container from which fluids were intended to be drunk or to be poured. They are typically formed in the shape of an animal’s head and were produced over large areas of ancient Eurasia, especially from Persia to the Balkans.

This golden rhyton was created during the Sasanian Empire (224–651 CE) which was the last Persian Empire before the rise of Islam. The Sasanian Empire, which succeeded the Parthian Empire, was recognised as one of the leading world powers alongside its neighbouring arch-rival the Roman-Byzantine Empire, for more than 400 years. The Sasanian Empire played an influential role in western medieval arts, and later its art, architecture and music were transferred from Persia to the rest of the Muslim world.

The English word rhyton originates in the ancient Greek word ῥυτόν. The conical rhyton form has been known in the Aegean region since the Bronze Age, or the 2nd millennium BC.

Golden Head of a Horse Rhyton

  • Title:                        Golden Head of a Horse Rhyton
  • Date:                        6-7th century AD.
  • Period:                    Late Sasanian Empire
  • Museum:                Reza Abbasi Museum

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“Do not choose for anyone what you do not choose for yourself.”
Iranian Proverb

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Photo Credits: 1) Reza Abbasi Museum [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons