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Wednesday, 9-Aug-2006 19:00 Email | Share | Bookmark
Taq e bostan - Kermanshah Part 1

 
 
 
the investiture of Shapur II
the supreme god Ahuramazda gives the king a cydaris ring and
and a diadem
 
 
king Shapur III (383-388). He came to power after much struggle
A Pahlavi inscription
 
 
 
One of the two Victory's outside the cave
 
 
 
 
the supreme god Ahuramazda hands over a ring to Khusrau
Khusrau's successful campaigns
Qajar's Relief
 
 
the magnificent hunting scene on the left wall
 
the king is hunting from a boat and shoots wild boars.
His attendants are also represented, like these hunters
on elephantback
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
At Taq-e Bostan ("the arch of the garden"), situated in the neighborhood of modern Kermanshah, several Sassanid reliefs can be found: cave 1 (the big one) is richly decorated; cave 2 is -frankly- less interesting; and there's also a beautiful rock relief. In front of the monuments is a little artificial lake and an ancient garden, or "paradise". They were probably created in the Parthian age.
Cave 1 -technically, an iwan- is the youngest and most splendid monument. It contains artistic elements from various cultural traditions and was created by Khusrau II the Victorious (590-628), the last great king of Persia before the arrival of Islam. The upper section of the relief shows his investiture. From the right, the supreme god Ahuramazda hands over a ring to Khusrau, in the center. This ring, called cydaris, is the symbol of power. The water goddess Anahita (notice the little jar) presents a second ring. This composition is inspired by sixth-century Byzantine apsidal paintings (with Christ between two saints). Khusrau embarked upon a career as a conqueror, defeating the Byzantines, who were weakened by a long Italian war, on several occasions.

He invaded Syria and captured Jerusalem in 614, taking with him the relic of the True Cross. Khusrau's armies went on to invade Egypt and in 626, their advance guards paused only a mile from Constantinople. The Persians even occupied Cyprus and Rhodes. It seemed as if the ancient Achaemenid Empire, the model of the Sassanids, was restored. On this relief, Khusrau's belt, caftan, and handkerchief are inspired by the art of the people from the steppe.

Cave 1 of Taq-e Bostan was created after Khusrau's successful campaigns. However, the Byzantine emperor Heraclius trained an army, and in 627, he invaded Assyria and Mesopotamia. His campaign was extremely successful. The Persian army mutinied and Khusrau was murdered (628). His successor Ardašir III made peace and the relic of the True Cross was restored to Jerusalem.

Cave 1 of Taq-e Bostan shows the last flowering of Sassanid art. This is the magnificent hunting scene on the left wall. The king is standing in a boat.
After the death of Khusrau, four kings reigned in four years, and in 632, the armies of the Islam invaded the Zoroastrian empire. In 636, the Arabs captured Ctesiphon, and in 651, the last Sassanid king died as a fugitive.

On the first hunting scene, the king is hunting from a boat and shoots wild boars. His attendants are also represented, like these hunters on elephantback. This may be inspired by Indian art. After all, the natural habitat of elephants is not in Iran.


A second hunting scene is shown on the opposite wall. Now, we see the king hunting for stags.
The king and his entourage. There are also musicians.
One of the two Victory's outside the cave. These winged deities are a Greek-Roman influence.
King Khusrau II the Victorious, as he is represented on the capital of a column in the garden. He can be recognized by his crown
Cave 2 at Taq-e Bostan shows king Shapur III (383-388). He came to power after much struggle, and presents himself standing next to his grandfather Shapur II (309-379). He is the king standing to the right. This representation is pretty original. Usual, a king showed that he was the lawful ruler by presenting himself as receiving power from the gods.
Third relief
This relief shows the investiture of Shapur II. This is a more common representation of royal power: the supreme god Ahuramazda gives the king a cydaris ring and a diadem.
The king is standing on top of a defeated enemy, who can be identified with the Roman emperor Julianus Apostata, who had been defeated by Shapur in 363. To the left, the god Mithra.

The same relief seen from a different angle. Some scholars have argued that the Sassanid ruler is not Shapur, but his successor Ardašir III (379-383), but this view seems to be incorrect.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taq-e_Bostan
http://www.livius.org/a/iran/taqebostan/taqebostan1.html


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