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A SILK LAMPAS ROBE
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A SILK LAMPAS ROBE

IRAN OR CENTRAL ASIA, CIRCA 8TH CENTURY

Details
A SILK LAMPAS ROBE
IRAN OR CENTRAL ASIA, CIRCA 8TH CENTURY
Of typical form, woven in blue and gold on a maroon silk ground with a repeating motif of a ceremonial bird holding an auspicious ring in its beak within quatrefoil pearl border, between these cartouches are cusped floral rosettes on blue ground, the front made up of five main panels, the reverse of one main panel plus the sleeves, interior with approximately half of the original blue silk lining, the rest restored, reverse in excellent condition
30¼ x 35½in. (76.8 x 90cm.)
Provenance
Asian private collection since early 1990s
Special Notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

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Andrew Butler-Wheelhouse

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Lot Essay

The pearl border that surrounds each of the birds on this robe, and each of the medallions with confronted ibexes on the previous lot, is a motif commonly found on Sasanian textiles, where it is associated with cosmology and royal power (L'Étrange et le merveilleux en terre d'Islam, exhibition catalogue, Paris, 2001, p.118). However the motif is also found on Sogdian textiles, most of which are decorated with stylized animals similar to the birds found here. The birds here all hold wreaths in their beaks from which are suspended three pearl-like pendants. These pendants are sometimes hung around the birds' neck, as on a textile in the Benedictine Abbey of Jouarre (Splendeurs des Sassanides, exhibition catalogue, Brussels, 1993, no.129).

In reference to a fragment in the Textile Museum Prudence Harper writes that the pearl bands, which combine a frontal and profile view, thus affording maximum visibility, are worn by Sasanian kings on coins on the 5th and 6th centuries. However, their depiction as here - with three pendants in a horizontal row - is first seen on the coins of Ardeshir III (628-630) (Prudence Oliver Harper, The Royal Hunter. Art of the Sasanian Empire, New York, 1978, p.137). The pennants that billow from behind the birds necks relate to those found on fresco fragments from the Qyzil monastery in Chinese Turkestan (now in The Hermitage, St Petersburg and the Museum für Indische Kunst, Berlin, C. Beurdeley, Sur les Routes de la Soie. Le grand voyage des objets d'art, Fribourg, 1985, p.117, no.117).
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