2016 | 5 | 57-75
Article title

The Himyarite “knight” and Partho-Sasanian art

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The Himyarite slab from Zafar contains several distinctive features shared with some Parthian and Sasanian art pieces, but its relation with Naqš-e Rostam friezes proposed by Yule and Robin does not seem convincing. 1. It shows a rider clad in long scale armor analogically to a terracotta tile from the British Museum (fig. 9); 2. There is an infantry attendant with an axe depicted over the mount’s rump similarly to the Tang-e Sarvak frieze, where there are two foot warriors and a battle axe too (fig. 7); The horse position on Tang-e Sarvak is either standing or rearing as on discussed relief. 3. Round shield and raised right hand with a lance as on Ṭāq-e Bostān relief (fig. 12). 4. The layout of the original piece must have therefore been squarish rather than horizontally extended, with the opponent of the main figure marginalized. Therefore Himyarite artisans either followed unknown or not preserved Iranian iconographic pattern or combined the features of different canons. Yule and Robin have pointed out that simple snaffle was depicted in place of elaborate and decorative Sasanian bridle, an element usually pronounced in Sasanian art but not always clearly marked in Parthian iconography, especially in smaller objects. It cannot be however excluded that the slab rather follows a Roman tradition captured in local taste.
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