Inlaid Gold Torque

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Inlaid Gold Torque

Central Asia
1st-2nd Century A.D.
H: 15cm



For a thousand years the Sarmatian tribes had contact and influential exchanges with the major military powers of the ancient world including Persia, the Crimean and Pontic kingdoms, the Celts, Thracians and finally the Romans. As nomadic tribal and trades people, they travelled extensively by horse, kept grazing livestock and carried their wealth as portable gold. Herodotus even claimed of one tribe ‘Their arms are all either of gold or brass…’. They developed a rich culture characterised by opulent tombs, fine metalwork, and a brilliant stylistic art. The excavations of royal burials have provided the most complete record of the jewellery of the Central Asian tribes.

Typical metalwork objects were in the form of stags or other animals, hammered or stamped out of gold and often inlaid with coloured glass or semi-precious stones. This torque is formed of a solid circular section with hinged opening, carefully inlaid with glass enamel and colourful stones. The areas of inlay which are now missing, may have been created from a material more susceptible to decomposition with time, on the basis of comparison with other Sarmatian jewellery it is safe to presume they may have been coral or enamel. Some of the inlays are in the form of ‘Tamga’ symbols which act as tribal or clan emblems, widely used by Eurasian nomads and recorded on various precious metal objects and ornaments found throughout the region.


Drouot, Paris, May 29th-30th, 1963, no. 27, illus.
Sotheby’s, Ancient Sculpture and Works of Art, 3rd July 2018, Lot 77.
David Aaron Ltd, 2020, No. 10                                


Sold at: Drouot, Paris, May 29th-30th, 1963, no. 27, illus.
Private Collection of Mr Djahangur Riahi, acquired from the above sale.
Thence by descent to his wife Mrs Riahi (accompanied by French Cultural Passport 192421).
Private Collection.
ALR: S00142452, with IADAA Certificate, this item has been checked against the Interpol database.

Note on the Provenance

Mr Djahanguir Riahi, a French- Iranian businessman, was one of the most prolific collectors of exquisite 18th Century French furniture and important art in the 20th century.

Riahi came from a somewhat humble Persian background, starting his career as an engineer and later going on to become a great industrialist. He purchased an apartment in France in the 1970s and decided to furnish it in the grandest style possible to him. He swiftly achieved notoriety among French dealers due to regularly outbidding them on the finest pieces at auction. Among the master craftsmen represented in the collection were André Charles Boulle, the ébénistes Bernard II van Risamburgh and Martin Carlin, and carpets and tapestry from the Savonnerie and Gobelins manufactories. Some of his individual pieces included wall brackets from Marie Antoinette's bedroom and a cabinet made for the Comtesse de Provence.

59 pieces from the collection, including pieces with royal provenances, were purchased in 2000 by Christie's and estimated to raise 25 million dollars when auctioned off. In 2012 Christie's held a second auction dedicated to former Riahi collection pieces.