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    Sale 1914

    Ancient Jewelry

    6 December 2007, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 451

    A PAIR OF PARTHIAN GOLD, GARNET AND GLASS EARRINGS

    CIRCA 1ST-2ND CENTURY A.D.

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A PAIR OF PARTHIAN GOLD, GARNET AND GLASS EARRINGS
    CIRCA 1ST-2ND CENTURY A.D.
    Each with a small boat-shaped body hinged to an arching earwire, a spool below joined to a large inverted drop-shaped pendant, a stack of hollow spheres below with inverted pyramids of granulation, each lavishly ornamented with garnet and blue glass inlays, the frames rimmed with granulation, including, along the upper section, a large rosette in the front, a disk above a diamond on one side, a crescent above a diamond on the other, a shield-shape on the back, and on the lower section three large inverted drops with small heart-shaped elements above in between
    Each: 2½ in. (6.3 cm.) long (2)


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    The standard Parthian earring often takes the form of a hinged ear hoop, either alone or supporting clusters of hollow spheres. More elaborate versions can have large pendants, either fixed or hanging, joined to the basic hoop, often with multiple spheres or bells suspended from the base. The present pair incorporates the standard hinged ear hoop, but it is overwhelmed by the garnet and glass inlays. The quality of the workmanship is unusually high, signifying that the ancient wearer was a high-status member of society. The solar and lunar symbolism incorporated into the design is evocative of Zoroastrianism, the dominant religion of the Parthian nobles. For examples of Parthian earrings see pl. 139 in Pope, A Survey of Persian Art.

    Provenance

    Acquired by the current owner in the 1970s-1980s.