Stamp seal, lioness suckling two human figures

citation

This ellipsoid seal comes with the motif of a lioness facing to the right. The lioness is suckling two small human figures. Above there is a Pahlavi inscription and a circle; below a crescent. This is a rather unusual motif, as similar Sasanian seals excavated and in collections around the world feature a she-wolf rather than a lioness suckling. Often, the she-wolf is suckling cubs. The motif can perhaps be explained as the suckling of humans as a metaphor for the unexpected kindness of nature’s mercy. The lion is a constant feature on Sasanian seals.

Historical period(s)
Sasanian period, 224 BCE-651 CE
Medium
Agate
Dimensions
H x W: 2 x 1.7 cm (13/16 x 11/16 in)
Geography
Iran
Credit Line
Gift of the Duncan M. Whittome Revocable Trust in memory of Ambassador and Mrs. James S. Moose, Jr.
Accession Number
F1993.18.4
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Tool and Equipment
Type

Seal

Keywords
Iran, lion, Sasanian period (ca. 224 - 651), WWII-era provenance
Provenance

From 1930s
Mr. and Mrs. James S. Moose, Jr., purchased in Iran in the 1930s. [1]

Duncan M. Whittome, by gift or inheritance from his parents, Mr. and Mrs. James S. Moose, Jr. [2]

To 1993
Duncan M. Whittome, Revocable Trust. [3]

From 1993
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Duncan M. Whittome, Revocable Trust. [4]

Notes:

[1] Purchased in Iran by the parents of Duncan Whittome, Mr. and Mrs. James S. Moose, Jr., while in the Foreign Service during the 1930s.

[2] See note 1.

[3] Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List after 1920 file, Collections Management Office.

[4] See note 3.

Previous Owner(s)

Duncan M. Whittome, Revocable Trust
Ambassador and Mrs. James S. Moose Jr.
Duncan M. Whittome

Description

This ellipsoid seal comes with the motif of a lioness facing to the right. The lioness is suckling two small human figures. Above there is a Pahlavi inscription and a circle; below a crescent. This is a rather unusual motif, as similar Sasanian seals excavated and in collections around the world feature a she-wolf rather than a lioness suckling. Often, the she-wolf is suckling cubs. The motif can perhaps be explained as the suckling of humans as a metaphor for the unexpected kindness of nature's mercy. The lion is a constant feature on Sasanian seals.

Inscription(s)

Pavlavi inscription in field, above.

Collection Area(s)
Ancient Near Eastern Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum