Sasanian Royal Portrait Bust

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Sasanian Royal Portrait Bust

Sasanian, Ancient Iran
5th - 6th Century A.D.
H: 33.6cm



This well-preserved Sasanian royal portrait bust depicts the king emerging from a corolla of stylized leaves. Diagonally over his broad shoulders he wears a chest halter, the two straps merging below in a central ring. He is bejewelled in a double-strand beaded necklace with two central drop-shaped pendants and earrings with drop-shaped pendants. His head is symmetrically framed by clusters of curls falling on to his shoulders. He has a wavy moustache and full smooth beard, the lower end of which is cinched at the chin by a ring or ribbon. He has a flat nose, large convex lidded eyes, and a summarily rendered mouth. The elaborate crown consists of a band at the forehead with some recessed areas along its length, the ties falling along his back. Above, at the front, are two superimposed crescents, the smaller one at the bottom. This was once surmounted by a now-missing ovoid, ribbed orb. At each side are stepped crenulations, once supporting now-missing wings.


A. Parrot, “Bronze Royal Sassanide,” Syria 32, fasc. 3/4, 1955, pp. 308-309, pls. XXII-XXIV.
Art Journal, The College Art Association of America, XXVI/1, 1966, p47.
C. Benbrow The Art of the Persians at the Museum of Fine Arts, Lot 53 (visible in the upper left corner)
B. Overlaet, ed., Entlang der Seidenstrasse Frühmittelalterliche Kunst zwischen Persien und China in der Abegg-Stiftung, Riggisberg, 1998, p. 249, n. 9.
David Aaron Ltd, 2023, No. 25.


Said to be from Mazandaran, Iran.
With K. Rabenou Gallery, New York, by 1955
Thence by descent to his daughter Yris R Solomon (1935-2021), New York.
Thence by descent, New York.
ALR: S00227183.

Note on the Provenance

Khalil Rabenou (1905-1961) was a Paris and New York-based Iranian antiquities dealer, part of a renowned family of dealers which included his uncle Dr. Benjamin Mahboubian, a noted archaeologist and expert on Persian art, Ayoub Rabenou, a dealer who owned prominent galleries dealing in antiquities in Tehran and Paris and helped reinvent the study and display of Islamic and Pre-Islamic arts, shaping the collections of many worldwide museums, and New York based antiquities dealer Edward Sefani.

The K. Rabenou Gallery was known to have sold various artefacts to the British Museum between 1963 and 1968, presumably under the directorship of Rabenou’s wife Elsa. A "Mr & Mrs Rabenou" are also listed as having sold a number of antiquities to the Metropolitan Museum.