Bishapur, Relief VI

Bishapur: important Sasanian city in Iran, founded by king Shapur I, and built by Roman POWs.

Relief VI

Relief 6

The sixth and youngest Sasanian rock relief in the Tang-e Chowgan gorge near Bishapur was made for the Sasanian king Shapur II (r.309-379) and shows the suppression of a revolt. It is made comparatively high on the rocks, and therefore therefore remained undamaged by the aqueduct that was later added.

The relief has two registers. The king is sitting on his throne in the center of the upper register, his hand on his sword. From the right, soldiers come closer. They bring prisoners, among which Iranian noblemen can be recognized. In the lowe register, someone is offering the head of a decapitated enemy. There's also an elephant, which suggests that Shapur's victory was won in one of the eastern parts of the Sasanian Empire.  From the left, courtiers and relatives approach the king, making a gesture of admiration with their right fist and a pointed index finger. (This gesture can be seen on many Sasanian rock reliefs, and is still made by Bakhtiari nomads.)

It is possible that a similar design, with the king seated and looking at the spectators, was attempted in Naqš-e Rustam; the relief over there, however, is too damaged to be studied.


Louis Vanden Berghe, Reliefs rupestres de l' Iran ancien (1983 Brussels), #78.